Tomorrow is my last day as Programs Director for Break Away. This weekend I will drive on to Ann Arbor, Michigan to begin life as an MSW student in Community Organization and Community Social Systems.
Being a part of the alternative break movement has been the most formative experience of my life. To say that my involvement with Break Away has changed me is an understatement: my time in college, my career path, my world view, my relationships, and my actions as a community member and citizen have all been challenged, focused, and altered for the better.
I’ve tried, for the almost 6 years that I have worked here, to help build a lasting foundation. When I first started with Break Away, Jill was the only full-time staff person. I made two. For years we would go to work in the early morning and wouldn’t leave until after dark. During that first year, we faced the question of whether or not Break Away would continue to exist independently, or not at all. Neither of us could imagine a world without Break Away – we were willing to work hard and fight for the organization we believed in. And now, just a few years later, we have four full-time staff members, a movement behind us, and over 72, 000 students annually going out on alternative breaks.
When I first knew I’d be moving on, I began to focus on legacy – leaving something behind that would further the vision of a society of active citizens, and ensure that Break Away would continue to grow.
I feel particular energy to help people like me, who have been altered in simple and drastic ways, stay involved with the movement. That’s why I’m excited about our upcoming focus on creating programming that engages alternative break alumni like myself. It will happen in many ways. Imagine graduates mobilizing in cities to volunteer, furthering active citizenship in their own communities (see: throngs of breakers storming the local city council meetings!), leading sustainable efforts focused on certain social issues or locations (like with Break Away’s Haiti Compact), running donor campaigns to fund Alternative Break Citizenship schools or regional retreats – perhaps even becoming Break Away Board of Director members.
I have always wanted to change the world. I now know that a world with alternative breakers and active citizens is a changed one. We have been that small group of thoughtful, committed citizens.
If the movement has ever lit you up, ever challenged you, ever asked you to be more ‘awake’ to the people and communities around you - please join me in donating to Break Away – the organization I love and the leader of a movement of people I love – today. Jill and I will match donations with our last paychecks – a promise we made at the 20th Anniversary Gala last year. Help me finish my work at Break Away as it moves into a new era.
Solidarity fist and true love,