Monday, April 22, 2013

UNC Charlotte partners with Habitat for Humanity

By Jenny Matz

A group of 20 UNC Charlotte students and several staff members displayed the Giving Green spirit in Alabama and Ohio as part of the Habitat for Humanity Collegiate Challenge.
Designed to encourage college campuses to visit and work with Habitat affiliates across the country, the challenge is typically an alternative spring break experience for most participants.

Sean Langley, assistant director for volunteer outreach in the Division for Student Affairs, worked with the student volunteers who spent a week in high-need areas. The group divided their efforts between tornado-ravaged Birmingham, Ala., and the economically challenged Portsmouth, Ohio.
In Birmingham, UNC Charlotte students donated their time and muscle to install roof trusses and windows and to rebuild walls. They also spent time painting home exteriors, landscaping and cleaning area homes that had fallen into disrepair.
In reflecting on the experience, Langley said, “The emotional part was thinking about all of the families that lost everything as a result of the tornado. We found solace in helping build a Habitat home and restoring a sense of hope for the community.”
For those volunteers in Portsmouth, they focused on smaller projects with great impact. One of those was the construction and installation of a ramp for a man who was becoming increasingly homebound, resulting in his becoming more depressed due to his restrictions.
Maggie Chahoud, president of the UNC Charlotte Habitat for Humanity student chapter, said the project had an emotional impact on the entire group. “When he used the ramp for the first time, in that moment, we could tell that no matter how small the project, we had made a significant difference in this man’s life.”
Although it has been a few weeks since participating in the project, Chahoud said she and her fellow volunteers were glad they generously gave of their time during spring break.
“My involvement with Habitat’s Collegiate Challenge program has been one of the most meaningful and rewarding things I’ve been involved with at UNC Charlotte,” stated Chahoud. “I cannot wait to spend another week helping others next year.”
Jenny Matz is assistant director of community affairs

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