During this year’s spring break from March 6-12, 20 Temple students didn’t spend any quality time with their couches. Instead, they traveled to Taos, N.M., on a trip with Habitat for Humanity.
While most college students don’t start thinking about vacation until after midterms, these students requested to perform community service during their spring break back in October. Detailed applications were filled out and returned by Oct. 25 and the process began.
Temple’s Assistant Director for Community Service Jason Riley received about 55 applications and interviewed each potential team member twice. His team already included returning students Rob Reyes and Kristen Kell, who had been selected as team leaders. Together, they conducted group interviews.
During the first interview, Riley, Reyes and Kell looked for interaction and watched how candidates worked in a team-setting through ice-breaking activities. Once the students were selected, training meetings began.
Every two weeks, and then once a week as the trip approached, meetings were held to discuss trip issues and fund-raising ideas. The trip cost $175 per team member, which mostly covered the travel fees, and the rest of the money had to be raised by the team. The Temple Chapter of Habitat for Humanity relies mainly on donations from other on-campus sponsors.
“It takes a lot of preparation because there’s a lot of fund-raising involved,” team leader Kristen Kell said.
Saturday and Sunday during the trip were considered “travel days,” but for the rest of the week the team was building with Habitat. They were given free time on Wednesday to tour Taos.
Rob Reyes was a team leader last year and this year, and feels that this year was “more responsibility … but a little bit more fun.” He became involved with Habitat for Humanity because “the idea that you’d be physically building homes with people, that idea seemed like a concrete solution to the poverty housing I was seeing all over Philadelphia.”
Habitat for Humanity builds houses for the homeless; however, students with no prior carpentry skills are still welcome. The skills needed are taught on-site. Temple’s students learned how to build “traditional adobe homes” in New Mexico.
Habitat for Humanity’s mission statement is to “build simple, decent, affordable houses in partnership with those who lack adequate shelter.” The recipients for the houses work alongside the volunteers to build their home, and the houses are sold at no profit.
Temple became involved with Habitat for Humanity five years ago at the request of students. The Temple Collegiate Challenge chapter has been running for a year and a half and was started by Jakai Jackson, Rob Reyes, Aja Settles and Cara Tait.
This year, the students worked alongside teams from other colleges and with the recipient families to build homes for the homeless. At night, they slept in a Baptist Church. It was not exactly your typical spring break.
Kristi Lee Daidone can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.