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Destination Program offers help for social issues

October 31, 2014

The Destination Program is meant to get students at UW-River Falls involved in service projects and help out others who need it.

The program was started in 2006 and is entering its eighth year here at UWRF.

It started after Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast. Students saw the damage that it caused and they wanted to do something to help the people who were affected it in some way.

That caused the Destination Program to be created by UWRF Student Life. The program gives students a special chance to help people and communities through service, education and reflection.

“The Destination Program is our marquee service program for students on campus,” said Director of Student Life Paul Shepherd. “It provides students an opportunity to do service on kinda three different levels.”

Destination has regional, domestic and international trips that students can apply for. Each program varies on the length of the trip.

“All of the trips are connected with a particular non-profit that’s doing work in those communities and so, during all of these experiences students go and work with that organization over the time period that we’re there,” Shepherd said.

“Destination Regional” is a weekend program. This trip keeps you within the Minnesota and Wisconsin area. The trip this year ran from Oct. 24-26.

The two locations this year where Arcola Mills and Community Homestead. Arcola Mills is in Minnesota, about 6 miles north of Stillwater. The students were working with the Arcola Mills Historic Foundation. Community Homestead is in Wisconsin just outside of Osceola.

“Destination International” is a week-long trip. It happens every year during J-term and this year they are going Jan. 3-10. The destination for the service trip is the Dominican Republic. While the students are there they will be teaming up with “Outreach360.” Students will be able to teach English to kids in the classroom. They will also get to interact with the community and kids while they are there.

“Destination Domestic” is another week-long trip. This one happens over spring break every year and this year they are heading to four different locations. They are going to Hope CommUnity Center, Alternatives for Girls, Plateau Restoration, Inc, and World Hunger Relief, Inc.

Hope CommUnity Center is in Apopko, Florida. It is works to help central Florida’s immigrant and working poor communities. It does it through education, advocacy and personal growth.

The Alternatives for Girls is in Detroit, Michigan. It’s meant to help girls and young women living in the Detroit area avoid exploitation, violence, teen pregnancy, and homelessness. It works to give them the support, resources, and opportunities that the girls need.

The Plateau Restoration, Inc is in Moab, Utah. The program is mostly field based and consists of projects that help restore of wildlife habits.

The World Hunger Relief, Inc is in Waco, Texas. It works to teach participants about sustainable farming techniques in an attempt to cut back on world hunger.

This year both the regional and international trips are full but applications for the domestic trip are due on Friday, Oct. 31 at 4:30 p.m. “Our hope is that students gain an awareness of a social issue that kind of occurs within these communities,” Shepherd said.

It is a chance to see the world from a different perspective and see the work being done. To get more information, visit the Destination website at uwrf.edu/StudentLife/ServicePrograms/ Destination/.