McMINNVILLE, Ore. ― Student volunteers from Linfield College and other schools across the nation are in Tacoma this month to build Habitat for Humanity houses. Many gave up their spring break and traveled hundreds of miles for the opportunity to haul lumber, cut boards and hammer nails for local families in need of a home.
Student groups have traveled from California, Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania and Utah to participate in Habitat’s Collegiate Challenge program, which allows students to learn more about poverty, housing and homelessness through direct service.
The Linfield College students have been lured from McMinnville, Ore., by a recent Linfield graduate who has helped frame her fair share of houses with Tacoma/Pierce County Habitat for Humanity. Lauren Ross spent every spring break in college building homes with Habitat, led projects in Tacoma for two years, and liked it so much she signed on as an AmeriCorps construction assistant with the local Habitat organization.
“What I love about Habitat projects is that you get to work alongside families putting in sweat equity, and you get to hear their stories,” Ross said.
“Many of the people we help are single mothers,” Ross said. “They have steady jobs but can’t afford rent, and many live in unhealthy homes or unsafe neighborhoods. Roofs leak and mold becomes a problem, or homes are drafty and too expensive to heat.”
“Habitat’s mission is a direct reflection of the urgent need for decent and affordable housing in Pierce County, especially among very low-income families,” said Sue Potter, director of development for Habitat.
Numerous college students organize alternative spring break trips each year and fan out across the country, addressing issues of literacy, poverty, homelessness and sustainability through service learning projects.