Learn more about the power of United Way’s Alternative Spring Break in Biloxi, Mississippi from Stacey Kraucunas. Stacey is nineteen and from Connecticut. This is her story.
Even though it’s only Tuesday in our week long Spring Break trip here in Biloxi Mississippi, I can already say I’m having an amazing experience unlike any other I have ever had before. I am a sophomore at a University in Connecticut and have lived there my whole life. ASB was a chance for me to experience a different part of the country other than the little New England bubble that I’m used to. Being in Mississippi has changed my views on what I thought the Gulf Coast looked like. I knew that there had been much devastation and I figured there was going to be parts that were still in need of help (that’s why I picked to come here in the first place.) However, the places that have been rebuilt are absolutely beautiful and I can tell how strong the community has become which is so wonderful. I was wholeheartedly welcomed into the group as soon as I got off the plane in Gulfport. The group is a lot smaller than I was expecting but we are all friends, play games together and have so many laughs which actually makes it better because we all get along so well. My group is no exception to that. The six of us have such a good time everywhere we go, from the work site, to lunch on the beach, and back to our bunks, we even wake up eager to hang out with each other again.
Speaking of my group, we are working with Habitat for Humanity building a house in Bay St. Louis. Working with these amazing people has been a blast! So far we have learned so much about how to build a house and all the important measures that the workers (and us) are taking to make the houses safer during storms and more environmentally friendly. We’ve helped build the front porch, put on siding, and sealed the foundation to prevent water damage. My group has also done seemingly less important tasks such as moving dirt and spreading mulch, but those tasks got us to laugh and talk and even meet a cute little frog hiding in the dirt pile. We all love working together and switch partners all the time so we all can hang out with each other during the day and make tons of memories.
One of the most rewarding parts in this trip so far happened this morning at the worksite. One of the Habitat workers, a woman from South Dakota named Dannie, told me she was excited to have us back again all week. She said that the way we were acting changed her views on college students for the better. Later in the day she was still excited with how well we were working and told us that, “If you all are an indication of the future, we’re in good hands.” I didn’t come on this trip to change people’s views on my generation, stereotypes are going to exist no matter what, I wanted to come here to help myself become a more well-rounded person and help others who can benefit and appreciate the work that people want to do for them. I think I’m having a better time “saving the world”, as my friends like to say, than the other college kids who spent vacation watching Netflix or partied too hard to remember. I know I’m making some of my friends a little jealous with how much fun they all know I’m having. I can’t wait for this week to continue and have a wicked good time for the rest of the week! J