Every spring break, Habitat for Humanity International has a program called “Collegiate Challenge” for college teams to build houses at certain affiliates throughout the United States. This spring break, Ithaca College’s campus chapter of Habitat for Humanity traveled to Columbus, Ga., to work with the affiliate there.
Thirteen students took two Dodge Grand Caravans 18 hours south to the beautiful, sunny Southern part of our country to help finish five substandard housing units. Substandard housing is reserved for families that are either in need of a new home because their current home does not fit the families’ needs or do not have a home of their own and are renting places to live. Another group of students also traveled to Albany during break to help learn about the legislative and lobbying process. The students in that group lobbied for affordable housing with state senators and representatives in addition to building a house.
On Sunday, we finally made it to the Columbus affiliate. The family that was receiving the house and all the Habitat employees were standing by the door to welcome us in. The workweek began early Monday morning and didn’t slow down all week.
During Monday and Tuesday, all of us were working on finishing the insides of the houses. This included finishing the tops of the frames by doing “deadwood” — making sure there is wood overflow on the frame so that sheetrock can attach to it. After our first two days, we were sore but felt accomplished that we were giving homes to those who currently have inadequate housing.
The rest of the week, we roofed all morning and afternoon. We roofed three houses by the end of the week, and it was amazing to see how much progress we made over one week. Roofing was a large indicator of just how far we were getting and how much of an impact we were making. Meeting the family put a face to the mission of Habitat and helped the participants identify with their cause.
The trip was a success. A lot of the students were first timers, and they all said they would love to do another trip. The family that was receiving the house also made us a plaque and presented it to us for the work we were doing. It was amazing to see how grateful they were.
But Habitat won’t be waiting until the next break to help out. During the school year, we do a lot of advocating to make people more aware of the lack of affordable housing available in Tompkins County. We also hold charities and events throughout the school year to help raise money to support Habitat for Humanity. April is Act, Speak, Build month, so Habitat will have a number of events, like guest speakers, discussion panels and film screenings coming up.
This was my third break trip with Habitat for Humanity, and each time I realize more and more how rewarding it is to give a home to a family.
Emily Holland is a sophomore business administration student. Email her at email@example.com.