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Alternative Spring Breakers Head to South Carolina

“I had fun. This kind of fulfillment and joy that you get from helping others, you don’t get anywhere else,” says Yerenmy Zelaya of his recent spring break trip to South Carolina.

MC Students on Spring Break
The 10-member student group, along with their chaperones,takes a quick break from the build site.The group raised more than $3,000 from a crowd sourcing fundraiser with the help of the Montgomery College Foundation. From left to right: Madeleine Soenens, Diane Carrillo, Fikir Mantegaftot, Justin Smith, Jodelle Laury Nembot Kongne, Maulika Masson,Yerenmy Zelaya, Antonella Fletes Sotelo, Stephanie Lazo, Schnell Reed Garrett (chaperone), Ashley Neyra, Libby McClayton (chaperone).

Unlike most college-aged spring breakers who bask in the sun by day at crowded beaches and party the night away, Zelaya served as a student leader for nine other Montgomery College students and two College staff members on an Alternative Spring Break experience.

Alternative Spring Break is a national movement in which college students spend spring break learning about pressing issues, supporting a nonprofit organization or cause through service, and engaging with peers and the community.

Organized by the Office of Student Life, the group, consisting of students from all three MC campuses, spent March 10 through 14 volunteering for Habitat for Humanity of Berkley County in South Carolina.

MC Students in Habitat for Humanity
From left to right: Madeleine Soenens, Ashley Neyra, Diane Carrillo, and Antonella Fletes Sotelo, who participated in Montgomery College’s Alternative Spring Break, helped establish prices for Habitat for Humanity Restore items, while others unloaded trucks and provided customer assistance in the store

The students spent the first day at Mepkin Abbey, a Trappist monastery, painting several structuresand clearing out a chicken coop so the monks could expand their crop production. The group spent the next two days on home construction, which included finishing work in lawn and landscape, as well as breaking ground on a new home project. They spent the last day at a Habitat for Humanity Restore, learning how to price donated items, unloading trucks, and providing customer service.

“These students truly enjoy volunteering and giving back,” says Schnell Reed Garrett, a part-time faculty member and service-learning coordinator at the Takoma Park/SilverSpring Campus, who served as a chaperone on the trip. “This was an opportunity to go somewhere, make new friends—and make a difference. It’s a true passion.”

To help defray the cost, largely covered by financial assistance from the College, the group created its own crowd sourcing fundraiser with the help of the Montgomery College Foundation. They exceeded their goal of $2,500, ultimately raising $3,033.80.

For more information on Alternative Spring Break, visit

If you would like to contact the Montgomery College Foundation to create a crowdfunding page, follow this link