by Daria Purdy ’19
On the first day of Spring Break, over 100 Providence College students embarked for destinations across the East Coast to participate in PC’s annual Habitat for Humanity service trip.
This year, Habitat sent students to sites in Pittsburgh, Kittanning, Harrisburg, and York, Pennsylvania; Georgetown, Delaware; Spring Lake, New Jersey; Bridgeport, Connecticut; Mechanicsville, Virginia; and Rockport, Maine. Beyond PC, Habitat for Humanity is an international, nonprofit organization that works to build homes for those living in poverty throughout the world. Their mission is to work towards a world in which everyone has a decent place to live.
As Habitat for Humanity Executive Board member Ashleigh Arenas ’18 describes, “Habitat homes are a ‘hand up’ rather than a ‘hand out,’ since the families have to invest work hours into their home and pay an affordable mortgage.”
To date, Habitat has helped over 2.5 million people all over the world gain access to affordable, quality homes.
Over 100 students participated in the Habitat trip this year. During the trip, Habitat student volunteers built and renovated homes or worked at Habitat ReStore, a nonprofit home improvement store. Taylor Mulhearn ’19 participated on the Habitat trip to Georgetown, Delaware. The trip to Georgetown was a pilot trip, meaning it was the first time that PC had sent students to that site location.
Mulhearn described a typical work day on site: “We had two work crews: an outside crew and a framing crew. The outside crew would saw and prepare pieces of plywood, and then the framing crew would put the pieces in place for the frame of the house. In this way, it worked like an assembly line, in that each person did a smaller job to create a larger whole.”
Mulhearn said that the work was exhausting but that her group had an excellent work ethic and did not complain. Mulhearn described the living situation as a house that had once belonged to AmeriCorps, a civil society program that engages adults in public service work. For fun, the group traveled to the boardwalk at Rehoboth Beach and hung out around the house.
Mulhearn says, “Before the trip, I was very nervous, as I had never done Habitat before and did not know anybody in my group. Yet, after the car ride down to Delaware, all my anxiety had disappeared, and I then knew that this was a great group that I was going to have a lot of fun with.”
Olivia D’Elia ’19 participated on the Habitat for Humanity trip for the second time this Spring Break, traveling to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, with her Habitat group. D’Elia said her trip this year was different from last year, saying, “We did not do as much demolition, but instead added the finishing touches to the house we were working on.”
D’Elia described how grateful the Habitat affliates at the site were to have the PC students there, as they said that they could not have accomplished by themselves half the work that had been accomplished with the PC students.
D’Elia described how she came back from the site tired each day, but said, “I didn’t want to nap, despite my tiredness, because I was having such a great time talking and hanging out with my Habitat group in the church where we were staying.”
For fun, the group took a trip to nearby Hershey Park. Despite the fact that the rollercoasters were not open, the group shopped for chocolate in the giant Hershey store. One night, the group ate dinner at a local PC student’s house. D’Elia describes her group as becoming very close-knit by the end of the trip.
The Habitat for Humanity Spring Break trips are an annual tradition that hundreds of students have taken part in. As D’Elia and Mulhearn described, the trip is an opportunity for students to make new friends and travel to new places. Beyond this, the students are able to give concrete help to people in impoverished communities. As board member Arenas says, “Habitat is a great opportunity for students to break out of the PC bubble and get involved in something meaningful that literally will aid in changing the lives of families across the country.”