New Hampshire students help build home for Beaumont resident

Brad Arena, Ashley Campbell and David Schwartz

Students from Franklin Pierce University volunteered their time to help Habitat for Humanity build a home for a Beaumont resident through the Collegiate Challenge, a nationwide alternative spring break program.

Seventeen students and three advisors from the university, which is located in Rindge, N.H., arrived in Beaumont on Saturday and, after spending March 15 and 16 sightseeing in Southeast Texas and Southwest Louisiana, began work on a three-bedroom, three-bath house on Galveston Street for 28-year-old Ashley Campbell, who applied for Habitat for Humanity to build her home in December 2012.

Students worked on the house March 18-21 installing siding and roofing tarpaper, among other duties.

Uliana Trylowsky, executive director at Habitat for Humanity of Jefferson County, said that although Habitat for Humanity relies heavily on local volunteer groups throughout the year, extra help during spring break through programs like Collegiate Challenge is always welcome.

“Spring break brings an extra boost of activity for us,” Trylowsky said. “They’re coming and having fun, but they are also giving back and working. I commend them for doing that. I am always impressed by the kids that do that. They’re all sleeping in sleeping bags on the floor at St. Mark’s Church. It’s kind of a little rough, a little fun.”

When Franklin Pierce University senior David Schwartz was asked why he decided to volunteer his time to Habitat for Humanity rather than spend it partying at the beach like many students do, he said he wanted to do something that wasn’t so cliché and that actu-ally made a difference in people’s lives.

“This is out of the woodwork and out of normal college life,” said Schwartz. “I think you get a better experience doing this than by going to the beach. I think we’ll get a lot more out of this … giving back to the community. It really builds confidence.”

“It helps us to think about how other people struggle,” added senior Brad Arena.

Arena said many of the students learned how to operate the needed tools for the job as they went. “Some people had never used a saw or hammer before,” Arena said. “Now they know how to do it. I like to see that everyone’s … so much more confident using the hammer and nail gun and not so scared anymore.”

Schwartz said that even though his group is helping a family 1,700 miles away rather than one from New Hampshire, giving back feels just as great.

“It means the world to all of us, being able to give back to this community,” Schwartz said. “Even though we’re not from around here, we know we’re helping an American.”

It feels great to Ashley Campbell and her 11-year-old son, J’Lon, and 6-year-old daughter, Kiara, too. The family hopes to have an opportunity to enjoy their new home in June or July, Campbell said.

“I got excited when I saw the dirt on the ground, so I’m just excited overall,” she said.

For more information on how to volunteer for Habitat for Humanity, visit www.beau- monthabitat.org or call (409) 832-5853.

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