Monday, April 02, 2018

Leadership lived: Student sees the impact of volunteering during Alternative Spring Break trip to Texas

University of Illinois Springfield junior liberal studies major Madison Reuss has a passion for volunteering. She recently went on a week-long Alternative Spring Break trip to Texas where she and 20 other students helped clean up the damage left by Hurricane Harvey.

The group helped homeowners pack up their houses, spread sand, tore down a shed and sorted supplies at the Salvation Army. Reuss says her favorite part of the trip was hearing from homeowners and knowing they were making a difference.

“One homeowner was getting ready to finish gutting his house and redo it and the one thing he said was just seeing headlights in the driveway coming to help always gave him hope and especially a time like Hurricane Harvey, they lose hope, and seeing the headlights just gave him that hope again.”

The group traveled to Beaumont, Texas where they partnered with Community Collaborations International (CCI). Reuss and the other students on the trip stayed at a church in Beaumont while they volunteer.

“Because of the trip, I’ve been able to make connections and friendships with people that I never thought I’d make friendships with,” she said.

At UIS, Reuss is the volunteer chair and a member of the Legion of Ladies and works at the Volunteer and Civic Engagement Center where she helps to coordinate a weekly volunteer effort with Lee Elementary School in Springfield. She also works as a music assistant for the UIS Music Department.

Off campus, Reuss is the president of the Springfield Celts Women’s Rugby team. She discovered the community team at the UIS Involvement Expo and decided to give it a try. She’d never played rugby before joining, but has come to love the sport.

“We’re not just a college team, we’re a local team, so you do make the connections in the community, which helps make the bonds from the community even greater,” she said. Especially for me, it’s really empowering as a woman.”

Following graduation from UIS, the Nashville, Illinois native, would like to become a secondary education teacher teaching 9 through 12 grade students.

“I’m absolutely thrilled that I came to UIS,” she said. “It was a really good step for me. Getting here and going to school here I’ve had opportunities that I never imagined that I would have.”

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