The joy of lending a helping hand

By on March 6, 2003

Spring Break is a normally a time to party with friends, drink a lot of alcohol and relax. But for twenty students at Quinnipiac it is a time to help the less fortunate.

“Our trip is to Albany, Ga.,” said Carleen Roy-Butler, assistant director of community service and experimental learning. “It is part of the Habitat for Humanities Colgate Change.”

Students from all over the country are heading down to this site in order to help the families in the area build houses.

“60 students from all across this country, from all types of schools, are helping out,” said Roy-Butler. “All these students are college kids.”

During their weeklong stay, the students will be involved with one of three houses located on the Albany site.

“The house that we will be working on will just have been started when we arrive,” said Roy-Butler.

These students will act as the unskilled labors during the housing projects, not touching any of the electrical or pluming aspects of the development.

“This means that they will work on the walls, the roof and the painting of the outside of the house,” said Roy-Butler.

This project will be a non-stop act for the students. They have a fixed schedule with allotted time for work and for play.

“Our day starts at 7:30. We work throughout the day and then we end at about five,” said Roy-Butler.

The students still have time to mingle with their school friends and new friends that they meet on site.

“At night there are planned activities the students can go on,” said Roy-Butler. “We go to the movies, bowling and mini golfing. The best part is that all the students are doing it together.”

Even on this Spring Break alternative trip, the school’s alcohol policy stands true.

“There is absolutely no drinking when we are on this trip,” said Roy-Butler. “It wouldn’t be a good thing if students came to the site in that condition.”

The goal of this trip is for students to learn valuable lessons and make lasting connections. Roy-Butler said there are also educational aspects.

“Students will learn about homelessness, they will learn through the experience,” said Roy-Butler. “They may even help out so much that they want to help at a non-profit organization in the future.”

However, there are always boundaries that need to be overcome and challenges to face.

“Students have to understand that there will not be a lot of free time,” said Roy Butler. “They need to go with the mindset to help these families.”

Another challenge that faces these fearless students is the car ride.

“There are 20 of us in one van for about 20 hours. It can get rough,” said Roy-Butler.

The faculty and staff have seen studetns overcome these challenges before. This is why the school donates money to the trip.

“Faculty and staff have donated with a tremendous response,” said Roy-Butler. “Students help with the fundraising also. Five of the 20 students going have already donated $280.”

But, the overall aspect that brings the whole trip together is tbe potentials of meeting the family the students are building for.

“In past year, the students were able to meet the family, so they will probably meet them on this trip also,” said Roy-Butler. “When Habitat for Humanity helps build your house, the family has to help in the process. If they work during the day, then they will come at night.”

This type of program is currently only offered during Spring Break. There is an application process students must go through when attending the trip.

“We publicize, we hold info sessions, and those students that are interested fill out an application,” said Roy-Butler. “20 students were then chosen throughout the classes. These students had to make a commitment and give in a $50 nonrefundable deposit.”

In the future, Roy-Butler and other members of the faculty will be working to get more trips like this off the ground. They are hoping there will be trips in the summer and during winter break.

“We really want to expand the program,” said Roy-Butler. “But, this expansion is a thing of the future.”

For more information, call Carleen Roy-Butler at x5352 or visit her at Career Service.


About Kellie Gleeson