Several community and service-minded students from Rensselaer spent their spring break swinging hammers, tearing down fences to build new ones, sanding, painting, and completing various construction duties at a Habitat for Humanity project in Alexandria, Va.
Twelve members of the Rensselaer chapter of the Habitat for Humanity International organization participated in Habitat’s annual Collegiate Challenge during the month of March. The group worked alongside local volunteers, college students from other chapters, and the future homeowners themselves to complete townhome rehabilitation projects in Old Town Alexandria. The students also lent a hand at ReStore Alexandria, a nonprofit home improvement store and donation center that sells new and gently used furniture, home accessories, building materials, and appliances to the public at reduced prices.
“I got involved with Habitat for Humanity during my freshman year with the overnight NRB trip,” said Paige Trasatti, a senior majoring in business and management who also serves as president of the organization. “I loved being able to construct something tangible and see the impact my time and efforts had on a family and a community. I also enjoyed the team aspect of working with people from all different backgrounds.”
I got involved with Habitat for Humanity during my freshman year with the overnight NRB trip. I loved being able to construct something tangible and see the impact my time and efforts had on a family and a community. I also enjoyed the team aspect of working with people from all different backgrounds.”—Paige Trasatti
“The Spring Break Trip was incredible,” Trasatti added. “I have never done a service trip like the Collegiate Challenge but I can safely say I will be doing it again. Volunteering your time is a priceless gift that brings such joy to give to someone. Traveling seven hours to volunteer made that gift that much more of an impact for me. The individuals we helped during the week were so grateful and appreciative to us.”
Started in 1989, Collegiate Challenge is Habitat for Humanity’s year-round alternative break program that provides opportunities for students from youth groups, high schools, and colleges to spend a week of their school break building homes in partnership with a Habitat for Humanity affiliate in the United States. This year, nearly 10,000 volunteers would travel to 35 states and the District of Columbia to contribute countless hours to Habitat’s mission of providing simple, decent, affordable housing to people who need it.
“I enjoy doing service and working with my hands to improve the community and people’s lives,” said Oliva King, a freshman majoring in chemical engineering. “Habitat is a well-known organization and I love what they do around the country. The most memorable experience I have had would be the Spring Break trip. It was excellent to spend the week serving others, traveling to different places, and getting to know fellow Habitat club members better!”
In addition to participating in the annual Collegiate Challenge, the Rensselaer Habitat for Humanity Chapter continues to support the local community. In April 2002, the organization became the 700th official campus chapter. Over the years, the group has worked on multiple sites in the city of Troy, and in Rensselaer and Albany counties. They fully sponsored and built a home in the city of Troy. The chapter also built a home on the corner of 11th and Hutton streets in Troy, in partnership with the Rensselaer County Habitat for Humanity chapter, and similar projects are under way. The chapter also made a $10,000 donation to support the project. Beyond building homes, members of the organization also carve out time to support campus and local events that also includes making gingerbread houses with children during Troy’s annual Victorian Stroll.