March 28, 2019
Instead of taking a cruise, lying on the beach or playing video games, a team of 20 FPU community members traveled to Dade City, Florida to participate in this year’s Alternative Spring Break (ASB). The group took part in Habitat for Humanity’s “Collegiate Challenge,” a program that enables student groups from different colleges and universities to collaborate on a build project during their spring breaks. Wherever one group leaves off, the next team picks up. In the past, FPU volunteer teams have worked on siding, framing, drywall, painting, building decks and porches, and more.
Derek Scalia, Associate Director of Student Involvement, said that the students underwent an immersive experience on this year’s trip. For two and half days, the students participated in the “SNAP Challenge.” Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is a national program for families in need of financial assistance for food. The national average for Americans living on SNAP is $4 a day, so that was the amount students were allowed to spend on food. This challenged them to live minimally while doing manual labor.
On the first onsite day, student volunteers learned new skills and started work on
two different houses. They were motivated to accomplish as much as they could over
the week, and looked forward to beginning the SNAP Challenge the following day. Savannah
Flynn ’20 reported from the field, “We are really getting to know each other through
our community living and adventures. We’re excited to see what this week in Dade City,
Heavy rain made it unsafe to work on the job site the following day, so the team played whiffle ball, hand-fed alligators at Gatorland in Orlando, and built a sense of camaraderie as they each found their own way to live within the SNAP food allowance.
When the weather improved and work resumed, the team split into groups to cover more ground. Some worked on-site, painting and putting finishing touches on the houses, while others helped out at the local women’s center. The team also packaged and distributed boxes of food to families at the local shelter, and helped clear trees and brush where future Habitat for Humanity homes will be built.
Before heading home, they spent their last couple of hours in Florida relaxing on the beach and enjoying the sunshine. Flynn reflected, “We had a great trip. As a trip leader, I could not have asked for a better group. Everyone worked well together and got along easily even when living in community. The experience was a real eye opener to the many things going on with families in the region.”
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