Week break from school used for service


Nate Dehne

Habitat for Humanity volunteers joined forces to raise and support a wall while it was installed.

What do six states, 2,250 miles and a 17-hour drive one way have in common? It was all part of what 18 members and two leaders of Lakeland’s Habitat for Humanity chapter experienced during Spring Break this year to help build houses in North Carolina.

“The Durham Habitat for Humanity folks [told] me that our group was one of the best they remember working with,” said Nate Dehne, vice president for student development and athletics. “The great thing is that I typically hear that each and every year because our students work so hard!”

The adventure started on March 8 when the group arrived in Chapel Hill, N.C. Paul Stage, who runs the Newman Catholic Student Center Parish where the group stayed for the week, greeted them.

While collaborating with Habitat for Humanity of Durham for four days, the group worked on two homes that were in the beginning stages of being built, three that were further along and two that needed some finishing touches to prepare them for the homeowners who were moving in soon.

The group installed appliances, painted, cleaned and worked on baseboards and the framework for the walls of houses.

“When I think of Habitat for Humanity, that is usually the picture I have in my head,” said Brittaney Prosser, Muehlmeier Hall Director, who helped chaperone the trip. “I’ve never been able to actually build and raise a wall in the previous three years, so that was a really satisfying feeling.”

On the third day, the group met “The Geezers,” a group of senior citizens who spent their Thursday mornings working on siding.

Lindsay Kleckner, junior criminal justice major, recalled one conversation that took place with The Geezers.

“I enjoyed working with [them], and [I] overheard a funny conversation: ‘I’m here to help you!’ [someone said.] ‘Good, you can get out of my way,’ [replied a Geezer.] It was all said with smiles!” said Kleckner.

On the last day, the Lakeland group split into two smaller groups. One group worked on the framework for the flooring and sealed the crawlspace of one house. The other group worked on framing the porch of another house.

“My favorite memory is being able to watch our work grow and to see a group of college students getting together to help others,” said Jenny Kjin, senior nonprofit and communication major.