Scholarship Recipient Volunteers in Aftermath of Louisiana Flood

Friday, October 27th, 2017

By Jacinda Romo*

University of Colorado (CU)  sophomore, Juwan Harris is a 2017 Casey Feldman Foundation Alternative Spring Break Scholarship recipient. Majoring in integrative physiology with a certificate in public health, Harris hopes to one day become a trauma surgeon and work with Doctors Without Borders. A Colorado native who enjoys Boulder’s culture and atmosphere,  Juwan’s compassion for others has propelled him into extensive community service,  which has included volunteering at the Salvation Army, Ronald McDonald House and the Denver Soup Kitchen.

Juwan is one of three brothers raised by a single mom who battled constant financial instability. He was the recipient of a Daniels Fund 4-year college scholarship as the result of his exceptional character, leadership, and community service.  Despite his childhood memories of hardship,  Juwan sees himself as quite fortunate and feels that the daily issues that he faces are trivial in comparison to those who are genuinely struggling. This motivates him to want help others experience the “chance at a life and a future.”

Juwan was part of a group of CU student volunteers this spring who participated in the “Natural Disasters and Rebuilding” Alternative Spring Break trip to Baton Rouge, Louisiana. A stipend from the Casey Feldman Foundation covered Juwan’s expenses for the trip to Baton Rouge to help in the aftermath of catastrophic flooding which occurred in August, 2016. Thousands of homes and businesses had been submerged in waters and Harris volunteerred with a local organization that rebuilt homes for those who were physically and financially unable to do so themselves. Starting at 7 am each morning, Juwan worked on the home of a man who was confined to a wheelchair and living in a makeshift trailer on his property. Juan’s labor included removing moldy insulation and ultimately, repainting the entire home.

Juwan was able to get to know the grateful homeowner, who he described as “the most genuine, caring, and humorous man I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting,”  adding that “southern hospitality is a real thing… I helped him not because I had to or because I signed up for the trip but because after meeting him the first day I felt as though I needed to help him. He was the driving force of why I woke up every morning that week at 7 am to work all day.”

“I feel like whenever a natural disaster happens it’s so easy to post a status about praying for that city or to post about donating $1….Being physically present and helping the cause hands-on is so much more meaningful,” said Juwan.

Since 2010, the Casey Feldman Foundation has provided funding for some 5 to 10 college students annually to participate in an Alternative Spring Break trip. To continue to make this scholarship stipend possible and enable students to experience the joy and gratification of volunteer service, please DONATE here.

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*Jacinda Romo is a current sophomore at the University of Colorado Boulder majoring in political science with a minor in leadership and ethnic studies.  She plans to influence others through education and empathy as she pursues a career in social justice and civic engagement.

Scholarship Recipient Vows to Leave this World a Better Place

Saturday, October 6th, 2012

By Dianne L. Anderson

Jamie Haller (L) priming drywall

“My week in New Orleans helping to rebuild a home destroyed by Hurricane Katrina was incredible and by far, one of the most rewarding weeks of my life”, reported Jamie Haller, a 2012 recipient of a Casey Feldman Foundation Alternative Spring Break scholarship stipend.

A junior and international relations major and education minor at the University of Colorado – Boulder, Jamie has been raised by a single mother for the past 8 years and works year round to pay for her own tuition, books and living expenses.  With no money left to spare to cover the expenses of the trip, Jamie was extremely grateful to the Casey Feldman Foundation for the $500 stipend.

Jamie and her fellow volunteers stayed at a church in the lower 9th ward of New Orleans–the area hit hardest by Hurricane Katrina.”I was shocked to see how much work has yet to be done in the area, certain streets felt like ghost towns with the large number of empty lots and remains of houses”, stated Jamie. “ It is hard to believe that these people have gone through so much and yet their upbeat spirit has remained–it is truly inspirational to see.”

The students working on Betty's house

Jamie and a team of student volunteers spent 4 days working with the non-profit, St.Bernard Project which has rebuilt over 445 homes in the greater New Orleans area since 2006. Jamie and her fellow volunteers worked on the home of an elderly woman, “Betty”, whose home was destroyed by Hurricane Katrina.  The students “mudded”, sanded and primed drywall, caulked, primed and painted the exterior of the house and laid down linoleum on the interior floors.

“I’m happy that Betty will soon be able to live in a healthy and clean environment”, said Jamie. “It was so great seeing how quickly things can come together when you have such a great team working alongside one another”.

What are Jamie’s pans for the future upon graduation? Ms. Haller plans on joining the Peace Corps, after which she hopes to work on developing education plans in West Africa.”I want to leave this world a better place than when I found it”, said Jamie.

Contribute to the Casey Feldman Foundation so that more students may experience the rewards of an Alternative Spring Break.  

Jamie Haller cauking the exterior of Betty's home

Related Links:

University of Colorado Boulder Volunteer Resource Center (Plans and organizes Alternative Spring Break trips for students at CU)

St. Bernard Project

Helping our children experience the gift of helping others, article in the Fall CU Parent Newsletter by Casey Feldman’s parents, Joel Feldman and Dianne Anderson in which they discuss the establishment of the Alternative Spring Break scholarships in Casey’s memory

Casey Feldman Inspiration video , produced by CU Boulder broadcast journalism student Kylie Bearse and which aired on CU Boulder TV News, concerning the Alternative Spring Break program and the scholarships established in Casey’s memory

– Previous  articles on the Casey Feldman Foundation News and Updates about the Alternative Spring Break Program and the many scholarship recipients who have benefited

 

Service for the Greater Good an Integral Part of Scholarship Recipient’s Life

Sunday, September 11th, 2011

By Dianne L. Anderson*

Erica Durbin with one of the goats at Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary

Erica Durbin is not your everyday college student. Then again, how many college students choose to spend their one week off from college for spring break mucking out a barn and barnyard, carrying bales of hay in the snow to feed farm animals and simply spending time with cows, pigs, chickens, turkeys, ducks, sheep, and goats who have been rescued from cases of abuse, neglect and abandonment. Erica received a scholarship stipend from the Casey Feldman Memorial Foundation to travel with other students to Woodstock, NY, the town made famous for peace and music, to volunteer at the Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary. The stipend covered travel, lodging and expenses for the week of service.

Erica, a Communications and Sociology major at the University of Colorado – Boulder  (CU) works 20 -30 hours a week and more during the school semesters, allotting 95% of her pay for tuition, books and Phi Beta Pi dues. Despite her hectic schedule and financial pressures, service for the greater good has been an integral part of her young life.

Erica has been active with the Flatirons’ Habitat for Humanity, helping to build homes for those less fortunate who are local to her college community in Boulder, CO. She also works with CU Going Local, a group of college students who collaborate and advocate for “everything local” in Boulder, which takes her beyond the campus and to local businesses and restaurants. Through the MlK Dream Readers, in cooperation with Boulder elementary schools, Erica and her sorority sisters are reading and study buddies to youth. In conjunction with tutoring the students once or twice a week in areas of difficulty, Erica also acts as a mentor and encourages her young “buddies” to formulate dreams and goals for their lives.

Erica Durbin and her fellow volunteer students raking the muck in the barnyard at Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary

She has also spearheaded recycling at her sorority where, with the help of a supportive “house mom”, recycling bins are now as prevalent as garbage bins within the house. Erica has also educated her chapter on annual food waste and the sorority sisters are now making an effort to take only helpings of food they can eat at mealtime and return to the kitchen later if still hungry.

Erica’s recycling efforts have also extended into the Office of Parent Relations where she works on the CU campus. “We no longer wheel tubs out to the garbage bin weekly as I recall doing frequently in my early employment”, said Erica. Through her efforts and with aid of another student worker, the Office has begun utilizing the mass-recycling services of the CU Environmental Club to shred and/or properly and efficiently reprocess expired files and documents. Material specific recycling receptacles are now utilized within the shared departments’ copy room. The office also no longer prints on certain types and colors of paper for their published documents, and have made sufficient “paperless” improvements, such as creating innovative social network accounts (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube-in progress, Flickr), to network information between the CU Office of Parent Relations and the parents.

Tossing down a bale of straw from the barn loft to spread as clean bedding for the animals

Of course, Erika is an animal lover and when she visits her mother in Evergreen, CO she and her young stepsiblings visit the Evergreen Animal Protective League during the play and adoptive hours, “to show some compassion to the furry residents.” Last year, Erika also applied for an Alternative Spring Break scholarship through the Casey Feldman Foundation and spent a week doing environmental conservation work on Catalina Island, CA to help restore the land and waters of the island.

When asked if she tires of so much volunteer activity, Erika replied in the negative adding, “My passion to advocate for the unheard and insufficiently represented strains within society have intensified for me, the more I do this kind of work. It has become a part of who I am.” Coupled with the successful recycling projects and environmental work, it is clear that Erika Durbin is one of those people who is making a positive impact on this world.

[Contribute to the Casey Feldman Memorial Foundation so that other students may experience the rewards of an Alternative Spring Break.]

Related Posts and Links:

Photos from Erika Durbin’s Woodstock Week of Service

Helping our children experience the gift of helping others, article in the Fall CU Parent Newsletter by Casey Feldman’s parents, Joel Feldman and Dianne in which they discuss the establishment of the Alternative Spring Break scholarships in Casey’s memory.

Casey Feldman Inspiration video, produced by CU Boulder broadcast journalism student Kylie Bearse and which aired on CU Boulder TV News, concerning the Alternative Spring Break program and the scholarships established in Casey’s memory.

University of Colorado – Boulder Volunteer Resource Center,  volunteer office at CU which organizes the Alternative Spring Break trips

Casey Feldman Memorial Foundation News and Updates – University of Colorado/ Alternative Spring Break, all of the Foundation articles concerning the Alternative Spring Break scholarship program

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Dianne & Casey Christmas 2006

Dianne & Casey Christmas 2006

*Dianne Anderson is the mother of the late Casey Feldman and co-founder of the The Casey Feldman Foundation and its sponsored project, EndDD.org

 

 

College Student Makes a Difference Through Foundation Scholarship

Monday, September 5th, 2011

By Dianne L. Anderson
 

Nicole Rodriquez drywalling the new home of Katrina victim

Nicole Rodriquez, Marketing and Spanish major at the University of Colorado – Boulder,  was particularly grateful to the Casey Feldman Memorial Foundation  for the scholarship  opportunity to  travel to New Orleans over her college spring break and aid in disaster relief.   “Volunteering is very important to me and I hope that in all my efforts I make some sort of difference, no matter how large or small it may be”, Nicole stated in her application for a $420 stipend.

The cost of the trip to cover travel, food and lodging was not something that was  in this senior college student’s budget.  Living with her parents throughout college to avoid housing costs, Nicole pays for her own college tuition with assistance from scholarships and a Pell grant.  She works some 15 to 20 hours per week during the school semesters in a work study program that enables her to buy books and further contribute to her tuition bills.

The New Orleans home which Nicole Rodriquez insulated and drywalled with other student volunteers

With a dozen or so other student volunteers though HandsOn New Orleans, Nicole spent her first day in New Orleans  replanting trees in a swamp in a City which lost some half a billion trees to Hurricane Katrina. The remainder of the week was spent insulating and drywalling a new house for a woman who lost her home to the hurricane and returned to New Orleans for the first time since Katrina.

“It was a wonderful week for me!” reported Nicole, who had previously volunteered locally for Habitat For Humanity.  “I thoroughly enjoy this work because I believe having shelter is easily one of the most important things in life and being able to provide this for those who are less fortunate gives me a sense of accomplishment.”

 

[Help other students experience the gift of helping others and donate to the Casey Feldman Memorial Foundation.]

Related Links and Posts:

Helping our children experience the gift of helping others,  article in the Fall CU Parent Newsletter by Casey Feldman’s parents, Joel Feldman and Dianne in which they discuss the establishment of the Alternative Spring Break scholarships in Casey’s memory.
Casey Feldman Inspiration video ,  produced by CU Boulder broadcast journalism student Kylie Bearse  and which aired on CU Boulder TV News, concerning the Alternative Spring Break program and the scholarships established in Casey’s memory.
University of Colorado – Boulder Volunteer Resource Center , volunteer office at CU which organizes the Alternative Spring Break trips
Casey Feldman Memorial Foundation News and Updates – University of Colorado/ Alternative Spring Break, all of the Foundation articles concerning the Alternative Spring Break scholarship program

 

Scholarship Recipient Undergoes a Life Altering Experience Through Urban Poverty Trip

Wednesday, August 3rd, 2011

By Dianne L. Anderson*

Amy Moore-Shipley, camera in hand

“My spring break was a life-altering experience founded in volunteering, education and social justice,” said Amy Moore- Shipley, who received a Casey Feldman Foundation Scholarship to travel to Cincinnati on an urban poverty trip with a group of other students over spring break from college this year. The college students volunteered with the Greater Cincinnati Coalition for the Homeless, in a City which ranks 7th in the nation for the highest percentage of residents living in poverty, and where some 7,000 residents are homeless. One out of every three children lives in poverty. The itinerary for the trip was filled with advocate speakers, interactive activities and volunteer work with those in need.

Moore-Shipley and her fellow student volunteers worked with preschoolers in a community center, served hundreds of meals in drop-in kitchens and cleaned up yards for low-income housing programs. The students also cooked for a family on a food stamp budget, navigated the city for resources for the homeless and created a mock drop-in shelter. (more…)

Alternative Breakers Receive Generous Scholarships

Friday, June 24th, 2011

Students performed dry wall work in New Orleans to help rebuild homes destroyed by Katrina

Not all college students spend their spring break basking in the sun, relaxing and partying. Some 130 students at the University of Colorado – Boulder choose an “Alternative Spring Break” and pile themselves into vans, travel to another part of the country and perform a week of community service. Among the multitude of   Alterative Spring Break trips, students have prepared and delivered food for the sick and disabled in NYC, helped rebuild homes for Katrina victims in New Orleans, worked to improve services for the homeless in Cincinnati  and dirtied their hands in an effort  to preserve a fragile island ecosystem off the coast of Los Angeles. (more…)

Amy Aberra Aids in Disaster Relief in New Orleans

Wednesday, May 5th, 2010

Amy Aberra

“Because of Casey, I was able to see the amount of work that still needs to be done within the United States”, said college student Amy Aberra, after volunteering in New Orleans as part of her school’s Alternative Spring Break program. Amy’s week of volunteer service was made possible through a scholarship stipend from the Casey Feldman Memorial Foundation, which covered the expenses of the trip for this young student.

Amy’s team worked on disaster relief in the Lower 9th Ward, still one of the most devastated areas in America, where street after street is scarred by empty decaying houses in a neighborhood which looks like a ghost town. The Lower 9th Ward has just 5,500 residents – one third of its pre-Katrina population.

A scene from the Lower 9th Ward in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina

This did not mar Amy’s enthusiasm. “We were divided into groups of four and assigned to projects on particular homes,” she said. By the end of the week, Amy’s team was able to almost completely finish setting tiles in the living room and kitchen for a couple named Wanda and Conrad. “I learned so much about carpentry and do it yourself work, while simultaneously learning of the stories and experiences of life after Hurricane Katrina.”

As a result of going on this trip, Amy said she discovered that she has a “deep passion and potential” within herself, and never thought she could accomplish so much in one week.

“I made a living, breathing difference that I am proud of and that I want others to take part in,” she said. “Every person I have talked to about the trip has dedicated themselves to making some sort of change that will positively effect others, whether large or small.”

Contribute to the Casey Feldman Memorial Foundation so that additional students may experience the rewards of an Alternative Spring Break.

Related Links and Posts:

Helping our children experience the gift of helping others, article in the Fall CU Parent Newsletter by Casey Feldman’s parents, Joel Feldman and Dianne in which they discuss the establishment of the Alternative Spring Break scholarships in Casey’s memory.
Casey Feldman Inspiration video , produced by CU Boulder broadcast journalism student Kylie Bearse and which aired on CU Boulder TV News, concerning the Alternative Spring Break program and the scholarships established in Casey’s memory.
Casey Feldman Memorial Foundation News and Updates – University of Colorado/ Alternative Spring Break, all of the Foundation articles concerning the Alternative Spring Break scholarship program
University of Colorado – Boulder Volunteer Resource Center , volunteer office at CU which organizes the Alternative Spring Break trips

CU Volunteers Help Out at Tennessee National Park

Wednesday, May 5th, 2010

Gintare and her group in Tennessee.

Gintare Ambotaite, a student at the University of Colorado, recently returned from a trip to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Tennessee along with fellow students, as part of the Alternative Spring Break program at her school. Gintare was given this opportunity through a Casey Feldman Memorial Fund scholarship, and although she said it was not an easy task,  added, “It was an eye opening experience because it showed me that a little effort can go a long way.”

The fourteen students in Gintare’s group spent time digging water bars that would prevent rain or snow from damaging the trails in the mountains and preserving the trails in order to help the community and others enjoy this spectacular national park. Gintare said she loved learning about their environment from the locals. “It was amazing getting to know them, especially a man named Troy who was in his late 50s and has lived his whole life in Cosby. He told me the years he spent working the park and how much this place mattered to him,” she said. “Troy’s story inspired me to work harder because I knew that it was of high value to many people in the area and those who come to enjoy the views of this beautiful national park.”

In addition to preserving and beautifying, Gintare’s group was faced with challenges, including a snowstorm on the way to their destination in Kansas, as well as another snow shower in the camp site. This only made their group grow closer. “I probably wouldn’t have bonded with the people as close as I did and learned as much if it wasn’t for the obstacles we had to face,” she said.

Gintare’s group was also educated about organic crops on Sulfer Creek Farm. The farm’s supervisors invited the volunteers to their home and spoke to them about the importance of organic crops and what they have been doing to promote them to the public. This made her appreciate the food she grew up eating as a girl in Lithuania, she said, and made her cautious about the food choices she makes today.

Gintare said she was very grateful to the Casey Feldman Memorial Fund for allowing her such an opportunity as this. She added, “spending a week with people who wish to give back to the world made me believe that Casey’s memory will continue to live on for many years to come.”

Related Links and Posts:

Helping our children experience the gift of helping others, article in the Fall CU Parent Newsletter by Casey Feldman’s parents, Joel Feldman and Dianne in which they discuss the establishment of the Alternative Spring Break scholarships in Casey’s memory.

Casey Feldman Inspiration video , produced by CU Boulder broadcast journalism student Kylie Bearse and which aired on CU Boulder TV News, concerning the Alternative Spring Break program and the scholarships established in Casey’s memory.

Casey Feldman Memorial Foundation News and Updates – University of Colorado/ Alternative Spring Break, all of the Foundation articles concerning the Alternative Spring Break scholarship program

University of Colorado – Boulder Volunteer Resource Center , volunteer office at CU which organizes the Alternative Spring Break trips

Memorial Fund Recipient Helps the Homeless

Sunday, April 25th, 2010

Clockwise from bottom left: Laurence Gendelman, Brett West, Ilana Radomsky, Robyn Hecht, Alicia Beaman, Danielle Sandoval

Danielle Sandoval, who received a scholarship from the Casey Feldman Memorial Fund for the Alternative Breaks Program recently traveled to Cincinnati to work at the Greater Cincinnati Coalition for the Homeless. Danielle, who is a student at the University of Colorado at Boulder went on her alternative spring break with fellow classmates, and had the opportunity to work with various organizations committed to working on hunger, homelessness, urban poverty and racism.

The group spent their mornings doing service work that included serving meals, cleaning, and delivering lunches to day labor workers, with afternoons spent doing hands-on activities that allowed the students to learn what it is like to be homeless, such as eating lunch on food stamps.

“The people we met were amazing, and strong, and hopeful… and yet so broken,” Danielle said. “It made me truly appreciate the opportunities that I have in life.”

Upon Danielle’s return from her life-changing trip, she continues her service work, serving meals with Colorado Friendship, and she has plans to start working with homeless youth with a program called StandUp for Kids.

Danielle is grateful for the chance to go on this trip because of the Casey Feldman Memorial Fund. “I wanted to say thank you for the scholarship and the opportunity to volunteer on a trip that changed my life,” she told the Feldmans. She added, “Because of Casey, I will appreciate every opportunity that is sent my way, and work to improve the lives of others so they can be given opportunities to succeed as well.”

The Feldmans Meet With CU Alternative Spring Break Students in NYC

Thursday, March 25th, 2010

CU students, The Feldmans and Casey's Fordham roommate,Christina Halligan preparing meals at God's Love We Deliver on 3-24-10. Right front -scholarship recipient, Tsion Zergaw.

This week the students at The University of Colorado at Boulder are on spring break, where many have chosen to do an “alternative” break, volunteering their time in community service projects throughout the nation. Seven CU students received scholarships through the Casey Feldman Memorial Foundation enabling them to participate in the “Alternative Spring Break” program this year.

Casey’s parents, Dianne Anderson and Joel Feldman met up with the twelve CU students who are volunteering in NYC this week at “God Love, We Deliver”, an organization that prepares and delivers some 3,200 meals per week to those living with HIV/Aids, cancer and other serious illnesses who are too sick to provide meals for themselves. The Feldman’s were able to spend an afternoon volunteering with these dedicated young people and meet scholarship recipient, Tsion Zergaw.  Casey’s Fordham University roommate, Christina Halligan, who would volunteer with Casey at Momentum Soup Kitchen, joined in on Wednesday to help out between classes. Casey’s Fordham friend, Brooke Burdge, who was interning for the day, met up with the Feldmans and the students for a dinner at the end of the day.

Note: A full story on all of the trips and the impact of the experience on the students and scholarship recipients will be forthcoming. To see more photos from this trip visit CaseyFeldmanNetwork.org and view the album, “God’s Love We Deliver – NYC Alternative Spring Break Volunteers“.