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University of Missouri

Giving Back to the Breakers

Mizzou alumni give back to students who give back during break.

Mizzou Alternative Breaks

Ten University of Missouri graduate students traveled to McKinney, Texas, to volunteer at The Samaritan Inn as a part of the Mizzou Alternative Breaks program. Photo by Cara Mendelsohn.

Ten University of Missouri graduate students were busy serving food to residents at The Samaritan Inn homeless program in McKinney, Texas, when a man decked out in Mizzou gear walked in the front door — and they had no idea who he was.

When Mark McAndrew, BS BA ’75, retired chair and CEO of Torchmark and the president of the board of The Samaritan Inn, heard that the students were coming to his hometown, he had to be a part of the experience.

Every year, Mizzou Alternative Breaks (MAB) sends more than 1,000 students around the world to spend anywhere from a weekend to a week volunteering. MAB always encourages alumni involvement. Mizzou Alumni Association chapter volunteers around the country have provided meals to students and hosted them in their homes.

Kelsey Kupferer, BA, BJ ’14, got involved with MAB her sophomore year when she volunteered at a children’s hospital in Memphis, Tennessee. Her junior year she was a co-site leader on a trip to Charleston, South Carolina. Her senior year she was in charge of planning retreats and implementing educational programming as the director of leadership development.

The St. Louis native is now a first-year graduate student at the Truman School of Public Affairs studying nonprofit management. One day after class, she joked with Ben Daniels, BA ’14, that they should lead the first grad school MAB trip.

Mizzou Alternative Breaks

Mizzou alumnus Mark McAndrew, far right, president of The Samaritan Inn board of directors, joined the group for a day of service and spent an evening swapping Tiger tales over dinner. Photo by Cara Mendelsohn.

“And all of a sudden, we’re leading the grad school trip,” Kupferer says.

From Jan. 9­–18, 2015, nearly 400 students spent a week of their winter breaks on a MAB trip. This group of grad students traveled to Texas to clean storage closets and pull weeds, redesign marketing materials and update the website at The Samaritan Inn, a homeless program that provides residents a place to live, meals and life-skills classes. The executive director of the program is Lynne Sipiora, whose son Daniel Sipiora is a junior general studies major at Mizzou.

During evenings at the shelter, students put on programs for residents. One night they hosted a college Q-and-A session. The night McAndrew visited, the students led a Zumba cardio dance class. (McAndrew’s just observed.)

He also took the group out to dinner and shared his story of growing up in rural Missouri, working his way up through the insurance industry and becoming one of Mizzou’s generous donors.

“His mission and his goal as a philanthropist really aligns with the mission of Mizzou Alternative Breaks, which is that he puts his time and energy and money into programs that focus on education and rehabilitation and — we talk about this a lot in MAB — serving, not helping,” Kupferer says.

Just as Kupferer was inspired by McAndrew’s success story, McAndrew was impressed with the Mizzou students.

“It gave me a good feeling about the generation that’s in college now, the generation that will become the leaders of this country,” McAndrew says. “So many goodhearted and generous people, so many young adults that will give time and continue to do so throughout their lives.”