Most college students flock to Florida beaches for their spring break.
Groups from the University of Baltimore and University of Connecticut are in Wyoming County for spring break.
And they’re having fun, they say, but not the partying kind.
The volunteers, who were housed at the Mullens Opportunity Center, planted an apple orchard and worked on a handicapped accessible ramp near the Guyandotte River.
“I was here last year and had a lot of fun,” said Steven Polin, a UConn senior.
“It’s different from what what I was used to in New York and Connecticut,” he remarked. “The culture is so different.’
Polin says he likes staying busy. “If I wasn’t here, I would be sitting around. It’s rewarding to get all this work done.”
Michael Carrington, a junior at UB, is vice president of the Student Council Association.
Planting the apple trees is part of a food security initiative, he indicated.
Carrington enjoyed the “friendly vibe” in Mullens.
“I want to help to make a difference,” he said.
Planting the orchard, according to Syed Ali, a UB student, “will help to feed the local people.”
Jordan Szazygiel, a UConn group leader, said he had been cleaning up the river bank near the old John McGraw School.
Danni Malone called the work she had been doing “very fulfilling.”
UConn’s Jonathan Brink, a group leader, called the experience in southern West Virginia “life changing” and “an opportunity to provide service and charity.”
Katie Myers, a staff advisor at UB, was part of a group which went to eastern Kentucky last year on spring break and learned more about the coal industry.
“We’ve had gracious hosts,” Myers commented. “They’re wonderful people.”
She said she “loves working with students” and being part of an effort “to give back to the community.”
Julia Bramko of UB noted that health issues faced by some parts of Baltimore are can also be found in southern West Virginia.
“I wanted to do some really grass roots work,” she observed. “This seemed like a good opportunity.”
“Mullens is a close community and people say hi to you on the street” said Bramko.
“I think we had some pre-conceived ideas about what the situation would be here,” she acknowledged.
She found the people “inspring.”
“You see a lot of people who are resilient and getting through,” Bramko said. “I see people who find joy in small things.”