FOR HAVERFORD STUDENTS, SPRING BREAK MEANS SPRING SERVICE
During spring break, March 6-14, four groups of Haverford students eschewed rest and relaxation or trips to exotic and sun-drenched locales, choosing instead to help build houses at various sites across the country as part of the College's Housing Outreach Action Program (H.O.A.P.). They traveled to sites in West Virginia, Alabama, Kentucky, and Indiana.
The Almost Heaven, West Virginia, project was affiliated with Habitat for Humanity, and students in this group assisted in constructing homes for low-income families, collaborating with a volunteer core of citizens for whom Habitat previously built houses. A second group helped Urban Ministries restore private homes at several locations in Birmingham, Ala. Students who traveled to Morehead, Ky., worked alongside volunteers from Frontier Housing, a community-based, non-profit organization addressing the housing needs of Appalachian northeastern Kentucky.
The Bloomington, Ind., group was also involved in home construction as part of Habitat for Humanity's Collegiate Challenge. The Bloomington trip emerged from a desire to see more minority students involved with spring break service.“We came up with the idea of a project targeted toward students of color,” says senior Janelle Matthews, one of the trip's initiators and a team leader for the Almost Heaven trip.“It's something to help them bond.”
Students who participated in these trips value the bonds formed with their fellow volunteers and their sense of accomplishment in having performed a vital service for a community in need. Senior Bryan Ward, a co-leader of the Almost Heaven team, has been involved with H.O.A.P. since his first year at Haverford.“After my first trip, I discovered how valuable H.O.A.P. was not only to the community, but also to fostering friendships and connections with individuals experiencing lives so different from my own,” he says.“It has been for me a rewarding, educational, and motivating project.”
H.O.A.P. is run by 8th Dimension, the Haverford office that coordinates student volunteerism.