January 25, 2020

UMW Students Spend Spring Break with Habitat for Humanity

Turning a concrete slab into a full-fledged structure with trusses might not illustrate the typical college spring break – unless you were one of 45 University of Mary Washington students and staff advisers who donated their time to rebuilding and rehabilitating houses last week.   UMW’s student-run Community Outreach and Resources (COAR) team organized three alternative spring break trips in Mobile, Ala., Maryville, Tenn. and Palm Bay, Fla., Feb. 28 through March 8. At each location, the students collaborated with Habitat for Humanity to help eliminate substandard housing. Click to view slideshow. Kelly Bryant, a senior psychology major, co-led the trip to Alabama this year for her third alternative spring break trip. “It is such a cool experience to learn how to hammer, square a house and put up roof trusses, all in the pursuit of giving someone a better life,” said Bryant. “It makes me so happy and proud to know that with my one short week I have made a lasting difference in someone’s life.” For some students, one trip is all it takes to change their perception of spring break. “After working with Habitat for Humanity last year, I couldn’t imagine spending my break any other way,” said sophomore and international affairs major Caitriona Cobb. “The feeling you get after volunteering is irreplaceable. The trip is such genuine fun and I was fortunate to get the opportunity to co-lead the trip with two of my best friends.” Alternative Spring Break is part of Habitat for Humanity’s Collegiate Challenge, which calls students to aid impoverished communities.  In the past 26 years, approximately 230,100 students have participated in the program nationwide.  UMW has been involved in the program for at least 18 years, according to Christina Eggenberger, director of service in the Center for Honor, Leadership and Service. “We have a couple seniors on the trips that have gone on Alternative Spring Break every year,” said Eggenberger. “For them, college spring break means building homes with Habitat for Humanity.”

UMW Receives National Recognition for Service

Two dozen University of Mary Washington students spent their Spring Break serving others. The students, who spent a week in Albany, Ga., and Melbourne, Fla., built houses with Habitat for Humanity through a program known as Alternative Spring Break. The annual program is one of many service opportunities that have given UMW a place on the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll for the fourth consecutive year. UMW is one of 690 U.S. colleges and universities recognized for engaging students, faculty and staff in substantial, relevant and meaningful service to communities. The honor roll, announced March 4 at the American Council on Education’s 95th Annual Meeting, is an initiative of the Corporation for National and Community Service, in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Education, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Campus Compact and the American Council on Education. During this year’s Alternative Spring Break trips, the 24 students, along with Director of Service Christina Eggenberger and Accounts Receivable Manager Paul Griggs, built houses in the local communities. “It’s so rewarding each year to experience something new and gain a new perspective on life,” said one of the students on the group’s Tumbler page. “I’m proud of everyone who has dedicated their breaks to a great cause. I feel blessed to be a part of it every year.” To follow along with UMW’s Alternative Spring Break trips, visit http://wearehardcoar.tumblr.com/.