Sometimes, it can easy to get forget why we 15 students really came here for this trip.

Stepping out from the Metro into the District of Columbia for the first time, there are the glorious views of national monuments, striking architecture and an aural presence of power that thrives here but remains unseen.

That’s what made stepping into the Fr. McKenna Center such a quietly breathtaking experience. Amidst all the towering buildings in this District that stand as a monument to the power of our Republic, here in the middle of it all is a quaint shelter hidden in a brick building behind a wrought-iron gate, with a door handle only on the inside. It is a mere ten minute walk from the U.S. Capitol.

Today, the group met Tony, a tall African American man who serves as our guide and mentor during our stay at the shelter this week. He is kind and sincere, and he speaks with a degree of eloquence and realism that is only attained by a fella who’s seen a lot. This is a guy who knows how to handle himself, we thought.

Then have him tell you about how he, too, was homeless on the streets just a few years ago. How he’s $145,000 in debt, in trouble with the IRS, and the father of five kids with four different women. He’s been stabbed. He was once shot in the head.

“My story will bring you to your knees,” Tony told us. “But God has been good to me.”

Now as his home as well, this is a men’s shelter with primarily black men, he said, and 80 to 95 percent of these men have been or are addicted to crack cocaine or heroin.

Years ago, Tony was one of those men.

Yet, through some tremendous will power and courage, here he is. Clean, reformed and a totally different man, trying to help others overcome their inner demons too.

Washington has a strange dichotomy. This is the epicenter of the most powerful and wealthy people in the world, and yet, here as I write this in a church pew at 11pm, there are 25 homeless men sleeping in the rooms next to us.

These are men who have lost everything. Maybe they got in the wrong crowd at the wrong time, maybe they lost their job and couldn’t afford to eat anymore, maybe they got sick and had their home foreclosed due to a stockpile of unpaid medical bills.

By coincidence, we are in town at a historic moment for our country’s future regarding health care reform. The president will sign a bill passed by the House tonight into law later this week.

Tonight, the group went to Capitol Hill to witness some of the onlookers and protestors outside the House chamber. It is a stirring sight and a true form of free speech that many of us don’t often see back in Wisconsin.

Yet, one has to wonder, for all the spectacle and media coverage,do those people in that Chamber have a real idea what exactly is going on here, just 6 blocks to their north?

Have they ever stepped out and taken a look around outside their bubble?

That is something I’ll be asking the people I meet this week. We have much more to learn, discover and stories to hear.

But for now, I’m going to go to sleep on my church pew.

Good night.

Adam Dziewiontkoski


Just landed!

Woohoo!! our long awaited journey is before us as we just landed at the Reagan airport in DC! with beautiful weather! Saw the Capitol from the sky! — Lindsey


Hey everyone! Excitement is building as we are close to boarding the plane! Yay! Peace out wisconsin! –Lindsey

I fell off the bus..


So, super excited to go on this trip! I woke up early, climbed on the bus and we were on our way! When we arrived at the airport,I was so excited in fact that I grabbed my sleeping bag and bounded off the bus! Down the stairs I went..& in front every person waiting to board an airtran flight for the next week I fell right on my butt. I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. So I cried, told myself to suck it up & laughed a little. So here I am checking in at the airport, and getting ready for a great week of hobbling around DC =) kati

Before trip thoughts

Almost time to go!

Yesterday in our meeting we talked about our theme, “eat to live, not live to eat,” I think we all recognized we are very fortunate to have three meals a day. This is not always true for everyone in this country. This will not be my first mission trip, but every trip brings a new eye-opening experience that I can bring home. In 2006, I worked in a soup kitchen in the Bronx with my youth  group. The part about of the trip that shocked me the most was that the people were not only there to eat. This was a time for them to socialize with  people who understood what they were going through. Many people were open to sharing their stories about how they got into their situation, and it was heartbreaking to hear just how easy it is to lose everything. I think it was an important lesson to see that this could happen to anyone at any point.

I look forward to this new experience, serving and learning more about poverty. Thank you for all of your support!

~Jeci Casperson


Only a few more days and we’ll be heading out to Washington D.C.! Yay!  This came so fast I can’t believe it.  So there has been a lot of nervous excitement feelings these past couple of days about what we are going to encounter.  So many people asking me what I am doing for spring break and it’s going to be awesome to be able to share the experience with those people through this blog.  So exams for now, but D.C. I will see you in a couple days!! 🙂

~Lindsey Kobes

Nine Days Left…

Sponsor of UW-Oshkosh Alternative Spring Break 2010

Before we update the blog, we’d like to thank U.S. Bank for being our sponsors for UW-Oshkosh Alternative Spring Break trip to Washington D.C.

The enthusiasm for our trip to Washington D.C. is really starting to build.  On Thursday, March 11, the Alternative Spring Break group met to discuss its week-long itinerary during our trip, which runs March 21-27.

We’ll be lodged at the Father McKenna Center, which is about a 15-20 minute walk north of the U.S. Capital Building and the other monuments on the National Mall. We’ve learned we’ll be staying with other college groups, as well.

During our trip, we’ll be updating our activites and progress all week long, and we encourage you to follow us. We’ll be adding blog posts, photos and videos frequently.

~Adam Dziewiontkoski