By Jaime Garcia De Paredes, Collegiate Challenge participant and Florida State University Habitat for Humanity Campus Chapter volunteer
This was never work for us.
Caravanning for nine hours, paying our own way and building homes eight hours a day during what was supposed to be a week full of ocean-view hotels and beach parties in Panama City never seemed to faze us. The work many of us had done prior to this trip was nothing like the week we would spend in North Carolina. It truly was one of the greatest experiences any of us have had, and we will not soon forget the generosity and kindness Union County Habitat showed us during our stay.
Our activity on the build site consisted of roofing, indoor piping and side paneling, so our site supervisors kept us busy while we worked on one of Union County’s larger subdivisions. We were very grateful for the opportunity to be able to work with the Deanna Williams family and the Joel Ballew family, their stories a constant reminder of the positive effect that our group and others after us will have.
Taking this time out of our lives never felt like a giving experience. On the contrary, just the opposite. The opportunities and experiences that these future homeowners and Habitat have afforded us are indispensable and will always be cherished.
More than 140 hours later — despite two van breakdowns and more bruised thumbs and splinters than we could count — we were all sad to leave, but knowing full well that our impact was great, we were satisfied.