As we settle into the spring semester, Devils Spark Change is both smiling back on our successful Martin Luther King Jr. weekend trip, and eagerly looking forward to our next adventures over spring break. But for now, we’d like to spend a little time recapping our time in Prescott this MLK weekend and share a little about the impact that we were so fortunate to have the opportunity to contribute to.
As those of you who have been following us know, this past MLK weekend we took 16 ASU students up to Prescott, Arizona to work with a non-profit called Stepping Stones Agencies. Stepping Stones is a non-profit that provides resources including housing, meals, security, job preparation, counseling services, and more to women and children escaping a domestic violence situation. If you’d like to read more about Stepping Stones, check out our recent blog post on them, as well as their website for more information. Because of the nature of the work that they do, Stepping Stones is very careful with who they allow to work directly with the women and children in the shelter. It is for this reason that the service that we did while there may have looked from the outside like it was completely unrelated to domestic violence, but in reality, it could not have been more important.
Stepping Stones garners almost the entirety of its funds from its two thrift stores. In those stores, $0.94 of every dollar made goes directly to supporting the women and children at the shelter, and the other $0.06 they say, goes to keep the lights on. The people of Prescott Valley bring donations in droves; there are so many boxes that the great-hearted people who work to unpack and sort them for the shops can hardly keep up with the influx of things. It was throughout that long process of unboxing to shelving that Devils Spark Change contributed the most help.
We arrived in chilly Prescott on Saturday afternoon, and after lunch we got to have a great discussion with two staff members at Stepping Stones who further explained to us their mission and day-to-day work. Our team had a lot of thought-provoking questions that the staff at Stepping Stones answered confidently. As DSC leadership, we were all very proud during that conversation to have brought together such a bright group of individuals who really care about the issue we were hoping to have an impact on.
After our lunch and discussion, we got right to work. We split into two teams: one team to go to the warehouse where the donation sorting was done, and the other to go to the clothing thrift store to sort, price, and put out clothing on the sales floor. Those of us in the warehouse were further broken up into groups of box-openers, item cleaners, electronics testers, and repackagers, while the Stepping Stones employees were pricing all the items. All of these groups continued in the work they began on Saturday through Monday afternoon, until there was an absolutely huge dent in the mountain of donations that was set before us. As we finished up for the weekend, we all went to the thrift store and organized shelves and inventory in preparation for a big sale they were planning on having. In the end, Stepping Stones encouraged us so much by letting us know that we helped them accomplish work in that weekend alone that they had been wanting to do for at least 3 years, but never had enough hands to do so. Knowing that we were actually able to help them in such a tangible way that we could see was directly helping the women coming out of domestic violence situations was obviously the most rewarding thing of all.
As is tradition for Devils Spark Change trips, in the evenings after service we went through some powerful programming around domestic and relationship violence. We had a lot of difficult conversations with each other, and we sometimes disagreed, but that was more than okay. We want more than anything on DSC trips to foster an environment where it is okay to ask the “stupid” questions, and it’s okay not to be an expert on everything. Through interactive activities and discussions it is safe to say that we all learned something new about domestic violence, as well as about each other. Which was great, because we finished off the last night by holding our induction and superlatives ceremony! After a student completes a service trip with Devils Spark Change, they are then formally initiated as an official member of the club, with priority registration on all future trips and the potential to reach a leadership position (sounds great, right? ASU students join join join!). New member induction and team superlatives are always a great way to finish what has been a challenging but rewarding service trip.
We had overall an amazing experience with Stepping Stones over MLK weekend. And so….without further ado….it is our pleasure to announce that for spring break, we will be going BACK to Stepping Stones to continue our work there! We are so excited to pick up where we left off this winter and continue to fight against domestic and relationship violence. And as an added bonus, we will be going during Women’s Herstory Month (March), so we feel that it is even more appropriate. If you are interested in going, please consider applying! The application link can be found here, as well as our informational flyer here. We hope to see you there!