Habitat for Humanity of Jefferson County was the recipient of international help last week when a number of students traveled to Southeast Texas to assist with the construction of a new home.
Eighteen students from University of Guelph in Ontario, Canada, made the 1,500-mile trek to Southeast Texas to help out with the framing of a new Habitat home.
The venture is possible because of Habitat’s participation in the annual Collegiate Challenge program organized by Habitat for Humanity International. Through the Collegiate Challenge, the local affiliate will receive volunteer help from college students during their spring break, what Uliana Trylowsky, executive director for Habitat for Humanity of Jefferson County, called an “alternate spring break.”
“It’s always a pleasure to work with these groups of college students who’re so motivated and interested in helping others,” said Trylowsky. “These students travel at their own expense and stay in local churches, sleeping on the floor, so they can help us frame up a house. I am always impressed by this sense of duty and desire to help others.”Prior to getting to work, students were able to enjoy some tourist attractions during their journey to Texas, stopping by Graceland in Memphis, shopping in Louisiana, spending a day on Galveston Island, followed by a trip to Gator Country.
Construction began on a new house on Shalom Street in Beaumont on Tuesday, Feb. 22, and Trylowsky said the students were very generous.
“They actually pay the affiliate a donation to come and work with us. Each Habitat affiliate sets their own rate. We only charge $125 per person to come for the week. That money helps with material costs for the house and food that I buy them for lunch,” she said. “They have free lodging by staying at Wesley United Methodist Church. It’s not like staying in the hotel room, but it works for them to stay and cook their meals. And for the most part, they drive down.”
The students were able to take part in the spring break road-trip adventure that also benefits the less fortunate because the university is a Habitat campus chapter.
“Habitat for Humanity is a very big organization and it offers many different programs to attract different types of volunteers and their interest levels. One thing they do for young people to get them involved in volunteering, they have a program called Campus Chapter. The organization applies for that designation from Habitat for Humanity International. They have to be accepted as a campus chapter and be tied to the Habitat affiliate in that area,” said Trylowsky.
As members of a Habitat for Humanity campus chapter, students like those from Guelph are already active in their local communities by taking part in Habitat for Humanity.“The campus chapter will offer the alternate spring break to the students. And if they like doing that kind of thing and are looking for a fun adventure they’ll sign up,” she said.The group spent the week framing the house. And in coming weeks, other groups of students will follow in their footsteps when students from Coe College, located in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, make the trip to Southeast Texas on March 7, followed by Salem State College students from Massachusetts on March 14, and students from the University of Colorado-Boulder on March 21.
Jennifer Trahan can be reached at (409) 832-1400, ext. 248, or by e-mail at j [dot] trahan [at] theexaminer [dot] com.