Every March, a caravan of minivans departs from the cold, grey hills of Pittsburgh and travels south to build houses with Habitat for Humanity over spring break. This week of service is part of Habitat’s Collegiate Challenge program, a challenge to college students to work directly with Habitat affiliates to further our vision of a world in which everyone has a simple, decent place to live.
Our Collegiate Challenge trips typically consist of 4 or 5 (depending on the trip) 6-hour days on various build sites in the area, where we frame and raise walls, install windows and doors, apply external insulation, raise the roof tresses and shingle the roof, among dozens of other small and large jobs – whatever is necessary to add to the work on the house. It is a great chance for all of us to learn new skills, whether it’s simply hammering a nail for the first time or installing all windows and doors in a house.
We frequently work alongside the future homeowners, who are required to contribute at least 300 hours of “sweat equity” into their new homes. Hearing their stories gives a more personal meaning to our work, and it inspires our members to continue to support affordable housing long after our return to campus. The interaction with these homeowners is the force that drives most participants to come back on the trip for their second, third, or even fourth Collegiate Challenge during their college career.
As President Jimmy Carter said,
“Habitat gives us an opportunity which is very difficult to find: to reach out and work side by side with those who never have had a decent home—but work with them on a completely equal basis. It’s not a big-shot, little-shot relationship. It’s a sense of equality.”
HOW YOU CAN HELP:
We are asking for your support to help our group of 30 students travel to return to Fort Lauderdale, Florida to serve with the Broward County Habitat for Humanity affiliate over our spring break. Last year, we worked within a Habitat for Humanity housing community of 70+ homes and successfully shingled 3 homes during the course of our 5 day trip. This year, we hope to get back to work with community organizers in the Greater Fort Lauderdale region and once again make a lasting impact in the lives of struggling families.
Our goal is to substantially reduce the cost of the trip so that everyone who wants to attend the trip is able to do so, regardless of their financial ability. Your generous donation to our campaign will help cover van rentals, group meals, local housing accommodations, supplies and safety equipment, and program fees. Contributions of every size help, and we are very thankful for your generous support.
Every Testimonial Tuesday, one of our members will share their personal experiences from Panther Habitat and past spring break trips. On, HabiMinute Fridays, we will share with you a statistic related to affordable housing, and on Sundays will share a Weekend Update of how the campaign is progressing. We look forward to updating you with stories and pictures from our week of service!