During spring break, some students may have gone to the beach to relax and chill with some friends and or family members. But a group of Kean University students, instead of relaxing, were hard at work helping the organization A Future With Hope rebuild homes that were affected by Hurricane Sandy.
From Sunday, March 4, 2017 to Thursday, March 9, 2017, Kean University students along with Center for Leadership and Service (CLS), traveled down to the Atlantic County area to take part of the program Alternative Spring Break.
"Being part of a trip like this always serves as a constant reminder that you can't ever put a price tag on service. Whether it's cleaning up scraps of wood at a worksite or installing insulation, you feel satisfied that you helped contribute to making the overall project one step closer to completion," commented Mark Celis, an Alternative Spring Break participant and senior music major.
While there, students worked on different projects at multiple sites. The first two houses, students attacked a few large piles of dirt to spread around each property to cover the sand that originally covered the property ground. Covering the property with dirt will allow grass to be laid down later.
"I really liked how we worked on three different tasks the three different days. No two days were the same. For example, the first day we leveled the ground of an entire property and the last day we completed insulation. I also liked how it was more of a retreat. The times we weren't providing direct service, we were getting to know our fellow students," said Michelle Fitzula, a Kean University volunteer and senior psychology and pre-occupational therapy major.
A majority of the houses rebuilt by A Future With Hope are built on what is called a pier foundation. So instead of seeing the usual concrete slab that houses are built on today, these houses are built on several large stilts, allowing houses to not be affected by any future flooding.
Five years after the hurricane, some homes are still left with debris spread around its property. Students cleaned up a property that was filled with debris that included things like dog bowls and toy dolls. It comes to the sad realization that humans are not only affected by the storm but animals as well.
"My favorite part was the five minutes after a job was finished and everyone packed up, there would be a moment of silence in which we just took in all the work we had just finished. Pride, soreness, and a sense of excitement for the future are all I can say about it," commented Marius Price, a freshman who volunteered in this program and a psychology major.
The last project students worked on was insulating the first floor of a home owned by a couple who will move in within the next couple of months. It was not an easy, but by the end of the day, when the task was completed, it was something everyone was pleased about.
Alternative Spring Break is a program that students can learn from, whether it be about themselves, about the family they are helping or about helping others in general.
"Alternative Spring Break is such an awesome and humbling experience. You get to meet fellow students who are all working towards the same goal of giving back to the community and do some good in your few days off from classes. I would definitely recommend this trip to all students interested in getting more involved on campus! You will not be disappointed," commented Fitzula.