Rachael’s Thoughts

After the final day of service the trip seemed to come to a whole. Our final group reflection around the campfire sparked a deeper sense of realization that I had not previously understood. After each day of work, fun, and friends, I learned a little bit more about myself and where I stood on the issues that we had been faced with in those few days such as misfortune, homelessness, and personal ignorance. I had never realized how wasteful I was. I have always considered myself generally grateful, but after this trip I was amazed at some of the things I so easily overlooked and took for granted. To see how happy the neighbors were because of our presence at Horizon House made me self reflect on how I had previously viewed those less fortunate. I have learned to always greet each person with a smile and conversation no matter what the circumstance. Everyone enjoys the small things in life and together the small things build happiness and confidence on a personal level. This trip was full of many small things that grew into one incredible experience for me. I made amazing friends, had great experiences meeting the people of Indianapolis and thoroughly enjoyed visiting the different headquarters we were fortunate enough to learn about. I was sad when the trip came to an end, but I am hopeful of what our group can accomplish in the future. The Greek Alternative Spring Break was the best way I could have possibly spent my vacation. I loved every minute of it and hope I will be able to participate again next year.


Trevor’s Thoughts

Hey my name is Trevor VonWeihe and I’m a proud member of Sigma Alpha Epsilon and I attended the 2012 Greek Alternative Spring Break. This trip was an eye opening experience and made me change my thoughts on those people who are homeless or are in need of help. My first day there I helped out in the Horizon House, I got the privilege to interact some with the neighbors. I met some good down to earth people, most of them having a good sense of humor and loved to crack jokes. With my interaction with these people and hearing their stories I learned that some had college degrees had steady jobs but life came down on them hard and their lives we turned around and they ended up in the situation that they are in now. Life became a struggle for the neighbors and they just need some help and a boost to get their life back and that is what the Horizon House hopes to accomplish. Helping these people try to gain their lives back was a great experience it made me thinks of what little I do as a person to help others and how well I have it. From my time in Indianapolis I got in the service mindset and from our reflection time that we had we realized that that is going to slowly go away, but I hope this doesn’t happen and we can continue helping out not only other communities but our own community here in Ames.

On my last day I worked at the St. Vincent DePaul distribution center this was mostly ran by retired men and women. This was honestly what I wanted to be like when I’m that old, just helping out the community and still being able to move around. The two guys that I worked with Jon and James were just hard working men that really care about helping people out, this meant a lot to me seeing such passion in someone not about their own self but about caring for others. One man had said “he would never work this hard for money”, him knowing that what we were doing was helping people and that being payment enough for their hard work.

This trip is one that I will never forget; I will always remember the experience, the neighbors, my group and the emotions.

Dan’s Thoughts

This trip to Indianapolis was on of the best experiences I have ever had. My eyes were really opened to a lot of the realities and real life issues we all face in today’s world. Working at Horizon House and Heritage Place was a great experience. I was able to hear the life stories of many people and make a personal connection with who they are. At Heritage Place I met two women who’s stories where ones of perseverance and challenge. While working in Horizon House, I met a few men who’s current circumstances where of no fault of their own but just the result of unfortunate circumstances. For these people, I am glad Horizon House is there to help. It was an honor to work with these two organizations. I also was able to bond and get to know many people from the Greek community. I was great to go participate in this trip and I hope that I will be able to do it again in the future.

Laura’s Thoughts

Hi everyone! My name is Laura Nordyke and I am a sophomore in Elementary Education and a Proud member of Kappa Alpha Theta. When I decided to go on this trip it was literally 2 hours before the application was due. I thought why not? I’d love to help some people and hang out with my fellow Greeks for spring break. Little did I realize that this trip would mean so much more than I ever expected and that it would leave a lasting impact on my life as one of the most memorable and life changing events of my college career.

I had the pleasure of working with three different organizations during our time in Indianapolis. On Monday I worked at Heritage Place. I had no idea what we were going to be doing but this was one of the most rewarding experiences I had. We were able to visit with a woman who was 89 years old who left a lasting impact on me. This woman at the age of 57 went back and completed her high school degree after dropping out years before to get married. This woman inspired me to fuel that kind of passion and determination in my future students; she inspires me to become the best educator I can be. Not only did she inspire me, but all of the older adults who came to Heritage Place inspired me. These people did not let age stand in their way as they line danced and did chair aerobics as if they were still 20 years old! They inspired me to never give up in life and always keep going… if a 94 year old woman can line dance why can’t I? On Tuesday I volunteered at Saint Vincent De Paul an organization that housed a food pantry and warehouse. It was here that we met a man named Mike who left me lasting message… How can I truly make a difference? I realized from Mike that there really are a lot of ways I can make a difference in the Ames community and that they need me and others like me to make a difference. On day three I got to finally volunteer at Horizon house where I worked in the Kitchen. Horizon house helped me understand that we cannot stereotype homelessness; each and every neighbor has their own story, struggles, and needs. Overall the service part of this trip gave me a greater understanding of why we cannot settle we must continue to work hard to make a difference in our communities.

The part of the trip that left me with the biggest impact was the Greek impact, and the call to serve. Through discussions, panels, touring head quarters and most importantly getting to know the faces of our Greek community I feel called to make a change. I am inspired to not only make a difference at Theta but a difference in the entire community. I have a greater sense of unity and a drive to better our community. From this trip I feel like I finally understand not what it means to be a Theta but what it means to be Greek. I loved getting to know more members of the community. On a personal note making a trip to my National headquarters also put Theta into a broader perspective. I finally understood how strong the bonds of sisterhood are and how I am apart of something much much bigger!

Thetas on the trip posing with our founder Bettie Locke

I LOVE Greek altrnative spring breaks!

Farah’s Thoughts

Hi again!

First off, I wanted to let you all know that this was probably my greatest spring break experience I have ever had. No, I was not sitting on the beach soaking in some sun, sleeping all day at home, or “giving up” my spring break to volunteer. I was in the wonderful city of Indianapolis because I WANTED to spend my time putting others before myself while having fun. I met some of the greatest members of the Greek Community and am glad I am now able to call them my friends. This blog post is not going to do any justice in describing my experience in Indianapolis assisting at Horizon House, Heritage Place, and enjoying my time in the city. 

I came into this experience not knowing what to expect. I have never gone on a service trip before and was extremely excited for what the week had in store. I learned so much about homelessness and poverty as well as the values of being Greek through several visit to fraternity and sorority headquarters.

My first day was spent at Heritage Place, which provides older adult services through education and learning, companionship and fellowship, as well as community resources information. We were to spend our time talking to Ms. Petrie, a 100-year young women and Katie, who was just as young at age 90. Both Ms. Petrie and Katie took the time to share the stories they had growing up. Ms. Petrie shared her times as a youth growing up in segregation and foster care. During that time, children who left foster care would end up working for the family that adopted them, but Ms. Petrie wanted to become a teacher, which she did. I found her story extremely motivational especially growing up in a time of segregation. Similarly, Katie shared her story growing up. Instead of finishing her high school education, she got married. At the age of 56, she went back and graduated from high school in front of all her family. Ms. Petrie and Katie showed determination and courage in achieving their dreams and truly made and impact on my view of life and education.


 Also at Heritage Place, we were able to take part in line dancing and chair aerobics with the seniors. Now let me tell you, I haven’t sweated that much in a long time. There was so much energy in there that I couldn’t even keep up with them! It was so great to see these seniors be happy about life and staying active. All of them were so easy to talk to and extremely grateful for all we were doing even if it was jus participating in the activities they were doing. This experience made me feel that I should enjoy life more with the others around me. There was so much to learn from all these individuals and definitely was an experience I will never forget.

The next two days were spent at Horizon House, a multiservice day center that empowers homeless neighbors to permanently end homelessness through professional and hospitality services. Stepping into Horizon House, I felt extremely comfortable in my surroundings and everyone was so kind and appreciative of our work. On Tuesday, I spent my time in the donation center and addressing letters for donations for Horizon House’s Tackling Homelessness event. Up in the donation center, I assisted in organizing clothes into storage and picking our clothes requested by neighbors. Although I did not directly interact with neighbors in the donation center, I know that we truly were making a difference up there by providing clothing and assisting in donations. I also spent time address envelopes for potential donations from surrounding companies in the Indianapolis area. Although not the most exciting job, it is extremely necessary and was happy to find out that several donations were obtained before the end of our stay. 


On Wednesday, I was able to interact with neighbors at the front desk, in the kitchen area, and even outside washing windows. Although I only spent very little time at the front desk and kitchen, the kindness and appreciation from the neighbors was unbelievable. They were probably some of the nicest people to talk to. Although in the kitchen, it was just a simple “hello” or “good morning” I truly felt that I was making a difference and brightening their day. I even had the chance to interact with neighbors while washing windows outside of Horizon House. This was one moment that stuck out to me. As we were cleaning windows, a woman was walking down the street with a walker and told us jokingly that, “If I wasn’t on a walker, I would leave a finger print on every single one of those windows.” This made us smile and gave us the opportunity to meet someone knew and brighten up their day. Unfortunately, we found out that the reason the woman was on the walker was because she had been diagnosed with a fatal rare disease and was given 3-5 years to live. Although I will never know exactly how she feels, I am glad she got the opportunity to let someone know because she has no family around. I felt like there was more that I can do, but I feel that she truly appreciated talking to us. As she walked to her bus stop teary-eyed, we wished her the best. I just pray for her recovery and well being especially since she is all alone. It disappoints me that I may never see this lady again, but she made a big impact on my life and her story.

After our week in Indianapolis, I felt extremely overwhelmed, but extremely grateful for the experience. I had learned so much about myself and making a difference. I realize how fortunate I am to have all the opportunities I have. Through this trip, I realized the true meaning of what it means to serve others and how important it is to educate ourselves on issues surrounding our communities. I hope to bring back my passion and my experience that I had back to my chapter and the Greek Community. I am still wrapping my head around this trip, but I know that I’ve made a difference overall, met some extraordinary people, and will continue to strive to make a difference in our communities. This is definitely and experience I will never forget and one that I will truly miss. 


Emily’s Thoughts

This trip was an amazing experience for me. I met so many wonderful people and learned a lot about homelessness, Greek life, and service to others.
After waking each morning at oh dark thirty, we were off to serve the Indianapolis community.

I spent my first two days of the trip at Horizon House. While the tasks we accomplished while there may seem less than inspiring, our job was to take care of the menial work so their staff could accomplish more important things. My third day of service was spent with the workers of St. Vincent de Paul’s distribution center. That was an experience itself! The volunteers on the staff were all retired, but showed more dedication than I’ve seen from people being paid to work.

Once we completed our service work, we got to visit several headquarters of Greek organizations. I was unbelievably inspired by the great leaders, traditions, and values of the various organizations! They made me so proud to be a member of the national Greek community.

Overall, I found that this service trip was completely different from any other service opportunity I’ve had before. I recognize that I’ve been extremely fortunate in my life, and from serving both the local community and other less fortunate individuals, I’ve come to realize the true value of philanthropy and community service. Our society has the means and potential to do incredibly great things when passionate about a cause, and from my service experience this week I feel very strongly that we, as Iowa State students and citizens of a global community, need to champion the cause of the neighbors.

Allison’s Thoughts

Boy was I wrong! As a newbie to the Greek Alternative Spring Break program I was unsure what to expect. With only stereotypes and a small number of past experiences to base my expectations on, I could not have been more mistaken. The neighbors at the Horizon House were not irritable, dirty or lazy as I previously expected, but the exact opposite. Although I am unable to tally how many ways my life has been impacted from this trip, I will share a few highlights…

Day 1, we will call this day ‘the endless drive’, was the first time I was able to spend a long period of time with my fellow Greek Alternative Spring Breakers. To others, this day may seem unmonumental, but I will never forget it! Because, the 17 other representatives of the Greek Community along for the ride would aid in changing my worldview immensely over the next four days, and I owe each of them so much for this. On ‘endless drive day’ I was also able to meet up with a fellow Pi Beta Phi from the University of Connecticut on an Alternative Spring Break as well. It was exciting how much we had in common and it was remarkable to meet another group of Greek students with similar values and as eager to serve the community as us! Oh and…GO CYCLONES (had to throw that one in there :D)

The next 3 days were an emotional roller coaster, this was due mainly to the severe lack of sleep and abundance of caffeine, I will forever remember the individuals who I encountered on these days. Although they will never fully understand, Cleon, Mike and a woman whose name I unfortunately will never know, each taught me an inimitable lesson I wouldn’t have otherwise learned.

Cleon, a neighbor at the Horizon House, taught me not to take any of my skills for granted; for example, he was mesmerized by my ability to type with both hands, something I don’t consider admirable, but I would definitely have a shorter blog post if I couldn’t (which may actually be better for all you readers out there #longwindedblogger).

On the other hand, Mike taught me to see the beauty in everything and to find creative solutions to each problem I face. Mike was a volunteer at the St. Vincent De Paul Food Distribution Center and boy was he a gem! He was able to put up with our chicken packing antics and remained humble while his fellow volunteer shared with us a portion of his achievements within the Indianapolis community. If I can accomplish half of what Mike has, I will die happy; but now I know what to strive for!

Finally, on our last day at the Horizon House I meet a woman walking down the street as I was cleaning windows. In this instance, I use the term walking loosely, for she was doing so with much difficulty. I knew she had just been at the HH only because she was wearing a sweatshirt I had sorted in the donation center earlier that morning.. As she approached myself and fellow volunteers she joked about putting finger prints on our ‘streak-free’ windows. It was not until later that we learned she had recently been diagnosed with a fatal disease and had no one else to tell about the emotional burden associated with such news. The thought of this still haunts me and although I hope to never fully understand how she feels, I pray that her confiding in us gave her some mental ease. It is only now that I realize how badly I wish I could let her know that I will never forget what she shared with me.

By the end of our last full day in Indianapolis I was so overwhelmed, I had no idea how I felt about the past several days, and there was no way I could comprehend how the experience would affect me from then on. It was not until a fellow group member shared a quote with us that night that I was even able to begin sorting things out. I still don’t know how to accurately describe the overall impact the trip had on me…but I can’t wait to do it again next year!