During a first-ever Alternative Spring Break in Oswego County, student volunteers partnered with local agencies and corporations to serve, support and build a spirited, resilient community.

"We have eight students that have chosen to take an Alternative Spring Break as opposed to going back to their communities," said Pam Caraccioli, deputy to the president for external partnerships and economic development. "And in every case, this is not their community and they've chosen to stay in Oswego County community."

The first-ever local project -- a complement to a range of projects students normally do in other states or as far away as the Caribbean -- even has been successful for all involved, she added.

"You feel good inside when you help someone when you see that you're really contributing to a life," said junior business administration major Kahhar Roufai. "Since I'm building ramps I got to see the impact in their life a big way. Here I'm helping with their emails. Email's pretty important. Opening files that they couldn't see before from their loved ones."

"I decided to do it in Oswego because I feel like I don't know much about Oswego even though I am a junior and I should know more," said music major Kayla Brun. "I feel like it's a great way to learn more about the community."

Senior Naomi Rodriguez Jose, a dual global and international studies and communication and interaction major, learned more about the community as well as operating power tools.

"I feel that this is an important job opportunity for me so I'm getting to know more about where I've been my four years and actually understand the Oswego community a lot more," she said. "This was my first time, I always wanted to do, I know like really hands-on with tools and building things."

"We worked alongside Novelis volunteers on Monday and Tuesday building wheelchair ramps for ARISE," Caraccioli said.

"They love to learn," said Leigh Pushard, a Novelis volunteer who guided the students working on the ramps for ARISE. "They love to get involved and get hands-on. And we've shown them how to use the tools. So it's been a very fun interactive day for all of us together."

On Wednesday, students worked with two units of Oswego County Opportunities -- their nutrition service program which prepares and delivers Meals on Wheels and transitional living apartments for people in need of housing assistance.

"The students will be riding along with the drivers, going into the home deliveries and then helping deliver the hot foods to the congregate sites," said Allen Wert, OCO's distribution supervisor for the nutrition service program.

"This is consistent with our strategic plan in having an impact in our community," Caraccioli said. "President Stanley felt that it was necessary to provide an opportunity. We had a waiting list for students to participate. We capped it at eight for this initial offering."

"It's a good thing to help other people at all times because you never know when maybe I need help at some point or maybe my mother or father needs help," said Sydiney Nyabiosi, a freshman electrical and computer engineering major."

Students worked with Exelon employees for a number of projects with the Oswego YMCA on Thursday, then lent their technical know-how to an audience of seniors Friday for Senior Technology Day at Oswego Health's Springside at Seneca Hill. Later on Friday afternoon, they visited and participated with activities at the neighboring Seneca Hill Manor.

"We have lots of questions about our phones and computers," said Springside at Seneca Hill resident Helena Harbert. "And sometimes you just feel stupid. And they have made us feel like it's okay."

Jason Santiago, an Oswego Health vice president and chief operating officer for Springside at Seneca Hill and Seneca Hill Manor, was pleased with the intergenerational sharing of knowledge.

"It's just great to see you know our Oswego students connecting with our seniors so that they don't have that fear with technology," Santiago said. "So that they may be able to connect with their loved ones that might be living in another state or another part of New York state."

"I'm absolutely overcome that they wanted to use their vacation helping us," Harbert said.

"Big thank you to the students for coming and spending time with our residents," Santiago said. "I, again, I hope this will not be the last of our connections with the senior Oswego students."

"At the end of the day this is about the students," Caraccioli said. "While we are obviously providing an impact to our community, I think they're walking away with a genuine feeling of how to impact a community and how to play a role in a community. And how to be a leader in a community."

Special thanks to:
Oswego County Opportunities
Oswego Health
Oswego YMCA
The Press Box

President Deborah F. Stanley
Auxiliary Services
Campus Technology Services
Community Services
Newman Center
Residence Life and Housing