Alternative Spring Break participants traveled to Tacoma, Wash., to help Habitat for Humanity lay the foundations for four homes that will be a part of “The Woods” housing community.
“Participating in Alternative Spring Break provides an opportunity to use down time to help the community,” freshman James Harger said in an email.
Each morning at 8:45 a.m., the participants of the Affordable Housing service-learning program began their work day. The ASB worked alongside AmeriCorps members, Habitat for Humanity full-time volunteers and future Habitat for Humanity house residents to build affordable housing for families.
The group worked on laying the foundation for four houses. The houses will be a part of “The Woods” housing community, which will consist of 15 houses. The housing development will be complete in the next three to five years and will be home to low-income families.
One house in this community will be one of the largest homes in history for Habitat for Humanity. The home will be big enough for 12 family members to live comfortably.
“Habitat for Humanity is such a great organization,” freshman Julia Nguyen said in an email. “They don’t just build houses, they build homes. They give children a place to grow, adults a place to call their own and families a place to be together.”
Before moving into a Habitat for Humanity home, families are required to complete 500 “sweat equity hours.” Homeowners dedicate hours of labor to build their own homes and the homes of their neighbors. “Sweat equity” reduces the costs of paid labor needed to build a home.
During the service- learning program, ASB participants had the opportunity to meet and work with families completing their “sweat equity” hours.
“Seeing them work so hard really connected what we were doing to why we were doing it,” freshman Breanna Moen said in an email.
In addition to working alongside future residents, Habitat for Humanity recipients donated meals to the group as a token of their appreciation.
“I think the best lunch came from a house recipient and mother of 10 children,” freshman Monica Molina said in an email. “She cooked us traditional Moldavian food, which was delicious and everyone was grateful for.”
Kit Crane, AmeriCorps mentoring coordinator, noticed her peers making connections between concepts, ideas and trends learned in the classroom with the social issues the group encountered during the service-learning program. ASB participants were exposed to low-income families and encouraged to rethink stereotypes of homeless people by understanding what affordable housing actually offers.
The group learned that affordable housing means a lot of different things. For example, affordable housing means families do not have to fear eviction, they have a better commute to work, more time to study for school and better access to college, a safe community and hygienic living conditions.
As a leader, sophomore Vesta Namiranian enjoyed watching ASB participants reflect on their service-learning experiences and grow as conscientious citizens.
“The truth is, service is good for the soul,” said Andy Frei, area director of Residence Life, in an email. “People are meant to connect to and engage with the world. When we put in the time to be responsible stewards of our Earth and consider the needs of others, it puts our own place in this world into perspective.”
Sarah Mason/Features editor
Sarah Mason can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org