Your first spring break in college… we’ve all been there at one point or another. Was it as fun as you expected? Did you meet any new people? Is reality hitting you hard in the face because of how awesome it was?
If you would have asked me what I was doing for spring break in December, I probably would have said something along the lines of “I’m going to the Bahamas with my friends,” however, I did something else and it was an AMAZING experience. First year or not, listen up when I say that Buck-I-SERV at Ohio State is such a rewarding organization and I encourage everyone to participate in at least one before you graduate.
I was asked to be a trip leader for a trip to Mullens, West Virginia, during spring break. When first asked I was kind of skeptical; I mean, why Mullens? Of course I learned more information about the destination.
Mullens is a town in southern West Virginia that is experiencing many hardships at the moment. You see, Mullens used to be a town where things happened. Downtown was booming and there were many residents. In recent years, residents are finding a lack of jobs, which leads to the younger generations leaving the town.
Mullens is a great little town, it reminds me of my own little hometown. Everyone knows one another and everyone is SO FRIENDLY. It was so nice to get away from the hustle and bustle of schoolwork and the city for a while. I didn’t know how much I was missing nature (or the woods) until I stayed in Twin Falls State Park. The scenery, the hills, the trees, the waterfalls — everything about it was gorgeous.
There were six of us, including our advisor. It was a tiny group, but we had SO MUCH FUN. We were able to volunteer at the Mullens Opportunity Center (otherwise known as the MOC). They actually had a pretty horrible flood the week before we got there, so a lot of our work was to help with the outdoor cleanup.
We worked with students from the University of Baltimore (they were awesome, by the way) the entire week. We shoveled up the fallen dirt to rebuild the hillside by a river behind the MOC, we filled in holes in the concrete with gravel, but our biggest project was the High Tunnel.
You see, the MOC is an awesome place. This opportunity center holds workshops for the residents of Mullens that can help them in nearly all aspects of life. They have a workout room, a lawyer’s office, line dancing, a computer lab where individuals can earn their GED and SO many other programs. They also have fitness programs going on, where individuals can keep track of how many laps they took around the gym and the activity they’re involved in. If that wasn’t awesome enough, they hand out prizes to the person who completed the most that week. LIKE COME ON THAT’S CRAZY COOL.
One of the MOC’s coolest projects, in my opinion, is their Farm to School campaign. Basically, this campaign is to try and get local farmers to grow fruits and vegetables for the schools in the county. Eventually, they would like each school to have their own High Tunnel to grow produce for the community. (A high tunnel is a fancy word for a greenhouse, in case you’re wandering, as I was.) We worked on constructing this and getting top soil and compost for the beds. By the time we were leaving they were working on the roof.
Hands down, this trip was such a blast. The workers at the MOC were so thankful we had decided to come and showed us so much love. It was an amazing experience.
One of the last nights we were there, we had a campfire with the University of Baltimore where a local orator told us stories about the town’s history and scary stories. We roasted marshmallows and listened to a delightful woman sing. It is so nice knowing that we helped make a difference.
I love the little town of Mullens, and I want them to thrive. I am so thankful that I had the opportunity to spend the week with some new friends, make some memories, and help make a difference. If you ever have the chance to go on a Buck-I-SERV trip, GO. I promise you will love it.