Students Give Back: Alternative Spring Break in California

March 10, 2020

students waving at the camera

Wentworth students volunteering at the Poverello House

For their alternative spring break this year, a group of 11 students looked to alternative energy.

Eschewing a traditional spring break spent on the beach or other vacation spots, Wentworth students partaking in the yearly ritual known as ASB choose to complete community work, often assisting food pantries, local schools and other non-profit organizations. This week, the group headed to San Francisco to help install solar panels with GRID Alternatives.

For group chaperone Ryan DePesa, assistant director of community development at Wentworth, the trip equals a way to continue the hands-on learning model while also giving back.

“It allows our students to work directly with concepts and ideas they are learning on campus and then provide renewable energy for families in need in the San Francisco Bay area,” he says.

Taylor Frothingham ’20 believes the trip works hand-in-hand with her future plans.

“As an Electrical Engineering student planning to pursue a career in solar technology, it allows me to experience the physical install, which will help me understand how to better engineer future solar systems,” she says.

This year’s trip was organized by the Center for Community and Learning Partnerships after department members were introduced to GRID Alternatives by Ryan Rainville, BELM ’10. The ASB group arrived on Monday to meet with engineers and take part in orientation. Activities throughout the week include installing actual panels, touring a hydroelectric plant and volunteering at the Poverello House, a homeless shelter in Fresno. The group visited Yosemite National Park. 

DePesa considers the energy crisis in California and believes that electricity and other amenities are often taken for granted.

“It’s a necessity that not everyone can afford. GRID focuses on low-income populations in multiple areas around the U.S., but they could not do most of what they do without their volunteers,” says DePesa.

“I’ve been fortunate to have been afforded many great opportunities in my life and I’m grateful for the opportunity to be able to make a positive impact and give back to others,” says Frothingham. “I heard the expression many years ago, ‘When you get to the to the top floor, don’t forget to send the elevator down for someone else.’ I think that embodies why I feel like it’s important to give back. We’re all in this together.”  

Follow along with this year’s ASB group with #witasb.

--Greg Abazorius

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