The Publication of Habitat for Humanity International | June/July 2000
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Collegiate Challenge Update

More than 8,000 students took their education outdoors this spring by participating in Collegiate Challenge, Habitat for Humanity International's alternative spring break event.

Coordinated by HFHI's Campus Chapters and Youth Programs department, Collegiate Challenge offers students the opportunity to change lives by working with people in need to build simple, decent and affordable houses.

For eight weeks from February through April, 174 affiliates in 39 states plus the District of Columbia hosted more than 400 student work teams that pledged almost $800,000 in donations to the affiliates. Alynn Woodson, HFHI special events coordinator, says next year's goal is even higher: 10,000 students and $1 million in pledges. The impact of Collegiate Challenge is "tremendous," Woodson says. "It can change people if they allow it."

For example, Matt Mannering, an English and philosophy senior at Boston College, went to Mississippi for his fourth and last Collegiate Challenge. He says his experiences volunteering have had a definite impact on his evaluations of prospective employers.

"It's given me a different perspective from a lot of my peers who went into the job market looking for the most money or the best living situation," he says. "One of the things I always wanted to find out is what the company thinks its role in the community is. Service, no matter what, is going to be an important part of my life forever."

Some of the rewards of participating in the Collegiate Challenge are deeper relationships among members of the community and the crew.

"You get a chance to know people in a more intimate, personal way," Mannering says. "Some of the best friends I've made in college I've met through participating in the Collegiate Challenge."

Mannering got to know the homeowners of the house his crew was building, and an experience on the last day of building underscored the importance of the house for the students and homeowners. The crew was hanging Sheetrock® when an afternoon rainstorm developed.

"Nobody on our entire crew stopped working," he says. "We all wanted to get it done before we had to leave. They were living in pretty desperate circumstances. You could tell it would make a big difference to have a real house."

-- Rebekah Graydon


Reprinted from Habitat World Magazine, June/July 2000.
This article may not be reproduced in any form without permission.
©2000 Habitat for Humanity International


 

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