Spring break for Humanity


Courtesy of Gabbie Helm

Volunteers from Habitat for Humanity went down to Florida over spring break to help build homes.

Ethan Fogle, Staff Reporter

For most college kids, spring break means going to some warm destination, partying all week and drinking one too many.

It was a bit different for me and other members of Oakland University’s Habitat for Humanity, who typically volunteer for HFH of Oakland County.

We traveled to Florida for a Collegiate Challenge through HFH. All participating students knew that what they were doing was helping someone who can’t afford a home buy one. Everyone has a different answer as to why they volunteer.

“I enjoy the building aspect and truly enjoy helping people,” Oakland’s HFH treasurer Shane Jackson said.

“’We don’t build houses, we build homes,’” HFH vice president Taylor Hagel said. “That’s their slogan, and that’s what I believe. Learning new skills is also something I enjoy.”

The drive began at 11 a.m. on Saturday, Feb. 19 on Oakland’s campus and ended in Vero Beach, Florida, 21 hours later. The car ride was long, but the smell of the beach and 80-degree weather was an instant reward.

Arriving Sunday morning, we lodged in a home nestled in one of the subdivisions built by Indian River HFH.

Volunteering began Monday, when we first went to the Indian River HFH ReStore. Students were greeted by the friendly workers and volunteers of Habitat for Humanity’s version of a Goodwill thrift store.

Filled to the brim with building materials, home décor, appliances and furniture, the store had everything someone would need to build and furnish a home.

Split up upon arrival, students worked from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. with a noon lunch break to help customers load furniture into their cars, help bring items from the donation center to the storefront or walk around the storefront helping anyone who needed assistance.

After a day of volunteering, most of the students went to the beach to soak up the sun for a few hours.

On the second day, there was a change of pace.

Most students had little knowledge on how to build a house, or more specifically, install roof shingles.

Luckily, Charlie Shain, one of the many friendly staff members of Indian River HFH, showed the students how to install the shingles.

“It’s as easy as a couple nails,” Shain said.

Since there were 16 students on the trip, not everyone could work on the roof. Some people painted adjacent houses in the subdivision.

After hot, sweaty hours of manual labor, shopping and bumming on the beach capped off the day.

On Wednesday, everyone went back to work to finish off the roof and begin working on other parts of the house.

It rained on and off all day, making the roofing job a little dangerous, but it was still a productive day.

After building, rain forced everyone on the trip to cram into our three-bedroom house. It was truly a bonding experience. For dinner, some of the group went for burgers and others went for Italian.

Thursday, our last day of volunteering, everyone went back to ReStore. The amount of work they had for us was limited.

“You did so much on the first day, we thought we would have more work for you today,” Assistant ReStore Manager Tina Dirkes said.

The overall attitude of Indian River HFH toward the OU students seemed to be surprised. Typically working with senior citizen volunteers, the pace at which everyone worked was something that the staff wasn’t used to.

OU’s HFH Collegiate Challenge trip was one full of volunteering, learning and bonding. For information on next year’s trip or how to join the club, contact president Scott Paladino at [email protected]