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R-MC Students Build Hope for a Brighter Future

Apr 02, 2017


Habitat for Humanity studentsRandolph-Macon College's Habitat for Humanity (H4H) chapter works hard to help provide simple, affordable housing for those in need. For years, many H4H members have spent spring break building houses in impoverished cities and disaster areas.

This year, 11 R-MC students and staff took the opportunity during spring break to work alongside the Cape Fear Habitat for Humanity Chapter in North Carolina. R-MC's Alternative Spring Break (ASB), which took place March 26-31, 2017, was part of the Habitat for Humanity International Collegiate Challenge.

Cape Fear Habitat
Cape Fear Habitat for Humanity's motto is Every child deserves to live in stability and everyone deserves a decent place to live. The Cape Fear Habitat builds simple, energy-efficient houses that are sold at no profit to hard-working families in the Cape Fear Region who will make affordable mortgage payments. Mortgage payments are not greater than 30 percent of the family's gross income.

Laarni Mason '17, a member of the ROTC and a communication studies major, planned and organized this trip in her role as H4H chapter vice president. Mason has participated in ASB trips all four years of her R-MC career. Regarding this trip, Mason says, "We are a diverse group of students from all academic areas, but collectively we all want a better future for these families. We did good work, and we had fun doing it together. You don't have to have building knowledge; you just have to be willing to try something new."

A Commitment to Help
Students committed to the Alternative Spring Break blindly, not knowing where they would be going or what they would be doing until a few weeks before the trip. Prior to their departure, the group logged many community service hours in the Ashland area while working together in skill-building sessions, fundraising efforts, and planning meetings.

"The H4H students raise the funds to enable them to participate in the trip," says Ellen Stack, director of advancement services, who serves as advisor and traveled with the group. "We partnered with local businesses, including Jersey Mike's, Pepicelli's Pizza, and Chick-Fil-A in Ashland, to help us defray travel costs by hosting 'spirit nights.' We are thankful to all donors and businesses who enabled the group to participate in this opportunity."

The Build
The group stayed in housing provided by Habitat: mats on the floor of a church in downtown Wilmington, North Carolina. During their week-long stay, some students worked on siding, doors, cabinets, and painting. A unique experience on this trip was the opportunity to work alongside the future homeowner, who spent every day logging "sweat equity" and sharing her enthusiasm for homeownership.

"We weren't just building any house, we were building a home for Michelle and her family, proving the Habitat philosophy that 'Habitat is not a hand-out, but a hand-up,'" says Amelia Bush '18, a women's studies major who also serves as the public relations representative for H4H. A biology major and Spanish minor, Kelsie Burton '19 says the H4H trip was a humbling and invigorating experience.

"Traveling with classmates enables a more connected and personal relationship with peers and it allows for the opportunity to work on teambuilding and leadership," she says. "And giving back to others not only enriches the college community, but the communities of Ashland, Hanover (where our H4H affiliate is) and beyond."

Get Involved
It's not too late to get involved with R-MC's H4H chapter, whose next build date is scheduled for April 29, 2017.

"We are always fundraising, and always looking for volunteers," adds Bush. "Those interested in donating can visit and indicate Habitat Alternative Spring Break in the notes section."

The H4H chapter recently participated in Act, Speak, Build Week, an international initiative for Habitat for Humanity. On April 6, members built a cardboard shantytown near R-MC’s fountain to bring awareness that everyone deserves adequate housing.

Annually, the chapter participates in four to six day-long builds in Hanover County. In the past, R-MC's H4H chapter has traveled to a variety of destinations, including Dade City, Florida; Biloxi, Mississippi; Franklin, West Virginia; Mobile, Alabama; and Monroe, North Carolina.