Nicole Fitzgerald, a junior Social Work major, gives an account of her fall break trip to a rural community. Nicole, along with Laura Stafford, Shienacey Pair, Brittney Ledford, Julia Johnson, Brittney Schlenz, Kelli Karl, and Amanda Morris all spent time in a rural community to learn what it is like, and how they can help.

We all have different ways we spend fall break; some of us visit with family, others hit the beach for one last time, and some even take fun trips to amusement parks.  Well, that is not the case with the Social Work Rural Poverty class, in which 8 students took a trip to Northern North Carolina and learned more about the community and resources that are available to these rural communities.  We traveled to Louisburg, NC to stay at Cedar Cross Retreat which also provided us with meals through the two days we stayed.

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Cedar Cross Retreat

The retreat that we stayed at had 10 beds: 4 in an upstairs room, one alcove in the living room, and 5 downstairs.  The people provided us with four vegetarian meals which provided most of the students on the trip a new perspective.  During the down time at the retreat we had the option of going on trails or going to the art studio.  They also had a selection of games and movies that we could play.  During the first night of the trip, a mouse appeared  in the living room downstairs. We all joked about the mouse being part kangaroo because the it jumped from under one bed to the next.

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Students enjoying each other’s company

One place we went was a landscaping company that  focusied on the entire process of the food we eat day to day.  This landscaping company worked with local schools and farmers to provide a healthier lunch for students.  The founder of this non-profit organization explained the process it takes to work with local farmers and stores to use those products.  The founder also took us to an old mill building that they fashioned into a processing plant mostly for collards. It also included produce bags for a better price for lower income families.  The founder has a downstairs building where they tried to begin a bakery using local products.   The building they used was also an old bank, and still has the bank deposit boxes that they light up in an array of colors.

It is hard to believe there is a smaller town out there other than Buies Creek, but the town of Spring Hope is definitely  smaller.  Spring Hope has one grocery shop close to them, but it may soon shut down.  They also have to go into a neighboring county to go to a Wal-mart. We watched a film about how rural communities found new ways to jump back from the poverty associated with a small community.  The town also bought a very old building that used to be a bank and they are working to refurbish the building into a history museum  of the town.  The town was not sure what exactly was going to come out of the refurbishment of the old bank, and were really unsure of what the upstairs part of the building would be. They stated how there was not much available for the children or young adults in the town, and our group provided a few ideas with the upstairs part of the old bank.

I cannot speak for the other members of this trip, but this was a very eye-opening trip for me.  I learned more about what is needed in rural communities, and how they fight to stay alive in a world with the idea of bigger is better.  This trip not only provided a outlook on rural communities, but also a new perspective on vegetarians and staying in a rural area.  There were two big messages I got out of the trip: one was take what you learn from college and take it back to the town/ city you come from.  The second was when travelling, take the business route; it may be the longer way around but take the time to go through small towns because you can find a lot of interesting things out.

Social Work Rural Poverty Class
Social Work Rural Poverty Class

Written by: Nicole Fitzgerald

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