News Bureau • Schofield Hall 201 • Eau Claire, WI 54702
phone: (715) 836-4741
fax: (715) 836-2900
UW-Eau Claire Students to Spend
Winter Break Volunteering
MAILED: Dec. 21, 2001
EAU CLAIRE — While most students will be spending their winter break with family and friends, 34 University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire students will spend their time volunteering in Washington, D.C. schools and shelters for the annual Alternate Winter Break program.
For the past 10 years pastor Don Wisner, from the Ecumenical Religious Center on the UW-Eau Claire campus, has arranged for students and non-students to help at shelters and underprivileged schools in Washington, D.C. This year 37 students, including one each from the Milwaukee School of Engineering, UW-Stout and UW-Madison, and seven non-students will be participating.
The schools visited are in poverty areas and struggle with poor facilities, a lack of school supplies, and out-of-date textbooks. "I wanted to go to a place where white people are the minority," Wisner said. "I think it's important for them to experience that. I think it's a really good chance for all of us to get to know each other," Wisner said.
Wisner also said he chose Washington, D.C. because he's familiar with the area and everything that is fun to see for free, and it's a great community. "We got terrific cooperation from the D.C. schools (in the past)," Wisner said. "They're very welcoming."
Volunteers provide one-on-one tutoring and classroom teaching in preschools, elementary, middle and high schools. In the women's shelter, participants cook, clean and provide companionship to homeless women.
The trip also gives volunteers a chance to meet and converse with political and community leaders about policies which affect social services and justice. On Wednesday, Jan. 9, the group will get a chance to meet Secretary of Health and Human Services and former Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thompson. Participants will get a chance to ask questions about universal health care, the anthrax scare, internal security and student welfare.
The group also plans to have dinner with African refugees. According to Wisner, participants will get a chance to understand what it means to be a refugee and to be relocated.
Wisner said they try to allow the students to experience many different people and places during their stay. "It's fun and hopefully educational," Wisner said.
The cost of Alternate Winter Break is $375, which includes transportation, lodging, food and a Kennedy Center performance. Volunteers will depart from the Ecumenical Religious Center at 7 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 5, and return at 5 p.m. Jan. 12.
UW-Eau Claire News Bureau
Updated: Dec. 21, 2001