Home is Where the Tools Are

Arthur Dowell, Web Master/ Online Sports Editor

Thirty volunteers spent their spring break holding construction tools for Habitat for Humanity in Mobile, Alabama.

Students on the Campus Ministry service trip originally thought they were starting on a new house, which was nothing more than a concrete slab. Instead,  they helped to continue work on a house that needed as roofing, siding, and house support pieces because the Mobile area was hit with rainstorms that made the work a priority.

Gorp members said they knew that one week of their time would change the lives of a family.

Junior Sports Management major Danny Price said he went in with an open mind.

“I knew going down, I was going to get a different perspective on life,” says Price. “I had learned that it was one of the most poverty-stricken areas in the United States and I knew I was going to learn to adjust to seeing a different lifestyle when I was down there.”

Once the group arrived in Mobile, they enjoyed a free day to bond and experience the Mobile lifestyle.

The group visited a swampland and viewed swamp wildlife as they rode on canoes and kayaks. Others group members went on a pontoon, and a few were even permitted to drive the vessel.

The group also wandered downtown Mobile and visited stores, restaurants, and the local park.

“This was a great opportunity to experience first hand the culture down south, not to mention the amazing food as well,” says Junior Doug Ranson.

The group also stopped at the beach and ate barbecue at the famous The Shed Barbeque & Blues Joint, which has won many local and national awards for its food and sauces.

Once the group got to work, they toiled from eight a.m. until cleanup time around four p.m, and many did not leave or take a lunch break while they were in the middle of a project because they said they took pride in their hard work.

There was no shortage of it.  The roof was the job for the first day. The group installed shingles, vented the house, and installed roof supports, a particularly important task because it must withstand Mobile’s high winds.  the roof was to withstand gusts up to 140 miles per hour.

“The job was something I had never done before and I had a fun time with it,” says Price. “The task at hand went smoothly as everybody did their share of the job and we finished before lunch break.”

The remainder of the week consisted of siding. More than half of the volunteers installed siding on all four sides of the house from ground-to-roof.

Another group worked on a shed that stores tools and house-building materials.  Volunteers built a new shelf to replace an old one that shook when the site supervisor went around corners with his truck.

Volunteers stayed at a camp provided by a Southern Baptist church where they bunked with seven student volunteers from Vanderbilt University. Volunteers built a fire each night night and shared their work stories, and during the day, volunteers could squeeze in some basketball, volleyball, and football. They enjoyed home cooked meals by chaperone Dan Kimbrough

Junior Government Law and National Security major Shannon Joyce and senior professional studies Kelly Habernern began planning the trip in September.  The two selected the location, found a place for the group to stay, and raised money to pay for necessities such as food and hygiene products. The group raised over $600 dollars.

“The planning from the beginning was stressful, but it was a huge accomplishment to see that all of our hard work had paid off in the end,” says Habernern. “The students, chaperons, and my co-leader helped make all of this happen.”

Out of the thirty student and staff volunteers, only 11 had experience on a Habitat for Humanity trip.

“I think the biggest thing for me was making sure I didn’t try to compare this years trip to last years,” said Ranson. “I was with an entirely new group in a different location so going to Mobile was a fresh start. I wanted to have a new experience.”

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