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The Alternative Break Experience

By Rachel Horowitz, Volunteer Program Manager

It was a typical Monday morning when a dozen eager students with matching Boston College sweatshirts ambled into the Chatham Habitat for Humanity office. Their faces were glowing with the excitement of Spring Break – but this was not their typical vacation.

These students, along with students from the University of Virginia and University of New Hampshire, would spend a week building houses through the Collegiate Challenge program.

As the days went by, the students became unrecognizable in the best possible way. Those hesitant to hold a hammer on the first day were putting up walls in a matter of minutes. They sat with community members at the St Bartholomew’s community lunch and the Pittsboro Kiwanis dinner. They tried sweet tea while staying at Tyson’s Creek Baptist Church.
On their free day, they fit in a volunteer shift at CORA Food Pantry. And before leaving, they danced the night away at The Great Hall on Chicken Bridge Road.

While we’re missing them this week, we wanted to show you the impact they made and what they learned from the trip. Enjoy!

Collegiate Challenge By The Numbers

  • 36 students worked on 3 Chatham Habitat homes
  • 15 meals were provided by faith partners and community organizations
  • 1,008 volunteer hours were completed
  • $4,600 was raised for Chatham Habitat’s programs

The Impact

“Some of my most meaningful experiences on this trip was not the hands-on work but rather the interactions that I had with both the Habitat community and the greater Chatham County community as a whole. I thought that I had countless opportunities to learn and grow in discussion with others, which I thought was something incredibly special about this community. I loved sharing stories and discovering connections with people that I had never met before.” – Brendan, Boston College

“It was awesome to see how much all of the volunteers cared about the work, and the time they took to actually teach us skills instead of just giving us tasks.” – Kalman, University of Virginia

“The stories of the volunteers working for Habitat for Humanity were incredible and meaningful to hear. The fact that so many of them were retired individuals who dedicated themselves so frequently to service was so inspiring to me. They were so open and willing to share their stories with us and teach us beyond what we needed to know for the build, even if it meant being less efficient than they could have been on their own. I loved talking to them about both their experiences when they were our ages and our lives now. It was incredible to hear their stories.”  – Emma, Boston College

“Learning to build interior walls was empowering and AWESOMEEEE” – Savannah, University of Virginia

“Seeing the love and drive that all of the Habitat volunteers and workers had for each other and for their cause was truly beautiful and inspiring.” – Boston College student

“The most meaningful experience I had while on this trip was seeing the impact that volunteering your time can have. More specifically, it was amazing to see Christian community through the church being so supportive in spreading the love of Christ into the city and county.” – Brandon, University of Virginia

“Being able to talk to the homeowner about her new house being made was something I will never forget. Being able to help someone while working alongside great people was amazing, and it feels so nice to know that you are doing something that can make someone’s life a little easier. I am so happy after coming back from this trip.” – Quianna, University of New Hampshire

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