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Features | Web Update

SEEDS travels to Louisiana and West Virginia Spring Break 2014

Published: March 25, 2014, 8:25 pm ET
seeds2
Courtesy of Tanya Sushkova
From left: Taylor Holden RC'15, Aaron Berryhill RC'16 and Aileen Echelberger WC'16 put up sheet rock at the SEEDS Project service site in Coalwood, West Virginia
Collegian Reporter

The Students Engaging and Enacting a Dialogue on Service Project is a student-run organization at University of Richmond that works with marginalized communities to examine the complexities of American society in order to encourage a deeper understanding of the role of service both locally and nationally, according to its website.

Each year, the SEEDS Project makes two service trips during Spring Break. This year, SEEDS sent separate teams to both Louisiana and West Virginia.

Wesley Meredith, junior and outreach and communications chair for SEEDS, made the trip to Dulac, La. over Spring Break.

“The conversations were spectacular amongst ourselves and with community members,” Meredith said. “I feel that we all once again were able to have valuable discussions about privilege, race, solidarity and sustainable impact.”

The SEEDS Project first began as Collegiate Disaster Relief, an organization formed by students who responded to the need for service in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.

Over the years, SEEDS has become an organization dedicated not only to manual labor and service, but also the dialogue and understanding that comes from creating sustainable relationships with community partners devoted to social justice in these areas, Meredith said.

“Community members remember us,” Meredith said. “It’s so exciting to return and see faces you remember from last year. SEEDS has a reputation in Dulac, specifically, and we always have folks who thank us for continuing to come down every year and helping out.”

Adrienne Schmidt, president of SEEDS who has participated in every SEEDS Spring Break trip since her freshman year, said she believed this experience was unique, which it is. SEEDS is the only service-learning experience on campus that is entirely student-led, Schmidt said.

“It is empowering to return from a successful trip and hear from participants about the positive impacts the trip had on them, knowing that their experiences were entirely the result of student efforts,” Schmidt said.

Tanya Sushkova, senior and SEEDS’s fundraising chair, participated in the West Virginia trip this year, which was the third time SEEDS has gone there.

As fundraising chair, Sashkova is in charge of raising the money for the trips, she said. SEEDS also receives some funding from SOBAC and seeks donations through fundraising efforts on and off campus. However, participants who attended the trips still had to put up some of their own money.

“This year, students were originally required to pay $200,” Sushkova said. “However, due to the success of our fundraising, we were able decrease their participant fees to $150.”

SEEDS offers other smaller leadership and service opportunities throughout the year, but these Spring Break trips are what they spend a majority of their time planning and raising money for.

Schmidt discussed potentially adding a third location for the Spring Break trips, but for now SEEDS will continue to work to create an even stronger service-learning experience.

“After returning from the trips this year, we reached out to participants to get their feedback on every aspect of the trip with the hope that we can continue to make improvements to the trip itineraries, preparations and post-trip opportunities based on concrete feedback,” Schmidt said.

Contact reporter Oliver Murphy at oliver.murphy@richmond.edu

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