Written by, Sarah James, student at Xavier University

photo 1 To say the week I spent at Harvest Farm was phenomenal is an extreme understatement.  It was inspiring, life-changing, thought-provoking, and so much more.  The people I met, the things I did, and the experiences I had will definitely impact me for the rest of my life.

I lost track of how many times one of the guys asked the question, “So why did you voluntarily choose to come here for Spring Break, when you could be on a beach somewhere or doing something actually fun?”  The simple answer is that I’ve participated in three different trips with Xavier University’s Alternative Breaks program, and the “normal” Spring Break thing has never really interested me.  Scooping cow poop, sloshing through mud, and hanging out with a bunch of men in recovery genuinely sounds way more fun to me than throwing my money away on clothes, restaurants, parties, etc. that I may or may not remember thirty years down the road.

I’m not really sure what I was expecting when I came to Harvest Farm—I always try to go into things with an open mind.  I was intrigued by the Farm’s mission because the issue of substance abuse has always been very close to me; it has affected some very important relationships in my life and I really wanted to try to understand those people better.  I was also a little bit nervous about what I was going to experience when I got to the Farm: What if the guys didn’t want to talk to me? What if they scared me?  I kept reminding myself that stepping outside my comfort zone would be a rewarding experience in the end.

Boy, did I underestimate how true that would be! I learned so much that week, not only about substance abuse, but mostly about life in general.   I expected to find wounded, recovering alcoholics and addicts trying to cope with their lives and move on.  But what I really found were just people—role models, actually.  The guys on the Farm are so incredibly strong, and wise, and full of life.  They taught me that it’s never too late to turn your life around and start believing in yourself.  That a little bit of positive energy goes a long way.  That hope is always present no matter how dismal things may seem.  I learned the most not from sitting down and begging the guys to tell me their whole life story; rather, what impacted me the most was just hanging out with them and sharing our time together and enjoying the blessings of life.

I could go on and on about my experience at Harvest Farm.  But what most impressed me was the honesty and love and hope shared by everyone there.  Harvest Farm is a place where brokenness becomes giftedness; the atmosphere of mutual support and authenticity is incredible.  My Spring Break was impactful, rewarding, and FUN!  Harvest Farm is a truly awesome and inspiring place, and I am so thankful to have had the opportunity to experience it.

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Xavier University students including Sarah spent there Spring Break volunteering at the Mission’s Harvest Farm. To learn more about how you can spend your Spring Break at the Farm visit our Short-Term Service Trips or email Heather for more information.