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Habitat for Humanity Otterbein chapter works in S.C. over spring break

Habitat for Humanity Otterbein chapter works in S.C. over spring break

Spring break is when students travel to warmer climates in search of fun with old and new friends. One Otterbein student organization did all that and more.

Ten members of the Otterbein University Habitat for Humanity student organization spent their spring break in Clemson, S.C. as part of the Collegiate Challenge event. They worked alongside the Pickens County Habitat for Humanity chapter.

Each year, Habitat for Humanity puts out a call to university students challenging them to do more with their time-off from school and volunteer to build homes for those in need. This year’s location in S.C. was the destination for three different university Habitat for Humanity chapters, but Otterbein arrived first. Unlike past trips, the weather played a major positive factor, providing a welcoming site for the volunteers.

“Last year in N.J. we lost an entire day and a half to snow,” said Leslie Cavin, Assistant Director of the Otterbein Center for Community Engagement and trip participant. “It was great to arrive in Clemson to 75 degree weather, blue skies and immediate work to do.”

This year’s project house was also a departure from previous work sites as the majority of the home was complete when the group arrived on Monday, Feb. 29.

“We mainly worked on the flooring and exterior paint as most of the infrastructure was finished,” said Cavin. “We also did siding installation and put finishing touches on the front and back porches.”

The Otterbein Habitat for Humanity student organization was founded by the previous university chaplain Monty Bradley and has been participating in spring break volunteer trips since its founding. The organization is currently advised by Chaplain Judy Guion-Utsler. 

Senior nursing student Mackenzie Melvin joined the Otterbein Habitat for Humanity group her first-year and took the annual spring break trip each of her four years. Volunteering as part of the Collegiate Challenge was a natural extension of her education and career aspirations.

“I love helping people whether it’s while in a hospital or while building their house. It makes me more humble and drives home that caring for others is my true life’s calling,” said Melvin.

Melvin also pointed out this year’s working experience was unique because not only did the students work with a local Habitat for Humanity chapter, but also the recipient of the finished home.

“It was really nice to see who we were helping and talk directly with them on the work site. You don’t often get to do that in other volunteer situations,” said junior Garrett Kandell, a three year member of the group but first-time spring break trip participant. 

“I had heard how much fun these trips were and decided it was finally time to go and I met some great new friends along the way. I’m so glad that I made the trip and was able to do something special with my vacation. Otterbein made that possible.”

See more photos from the group's trip to Clemson in our Flickr photo gallery.