Marist College’s own Habitat for Humanity chapter has just announced that this year’s Collegiate Challenge team will be heading to Birmingham, Alabama for spring break. The Collegiate Challenge is a program put in place by Habitat for Humanity’s national organization. It offers students an alternative option for school breaks with the opportunity to further Habitat’s mission of eliminating substandard housing. The Collegiate Challenge tasks students with spending their break doing something for others, learning more about themselves and their relationship with the world and gaining new skills.

The Collegiate Challenge team at Marist is open to anyone involved in the chapter, though only a few students are lucky enough to be randomly selected. Junior Christine Duxbury is new this year to Marist’s chapter of Habitat for Humanity and is also one of the students who will be spending this spring break building in Birmingham. Duxbury decided to get involved with Habitat for Humanity following a formative moment speaking with homeless immigrants in Morocco.

“That made me want to do more for those less fortunate, which is why I joined,” she said.  

Members from the 2014 Collegiate Challenge, which took members to New Mexico

Members from the 2014 Collegiate Challenge, which took the Marist chapter to New Mexico.

Last year’s team spent the week in Oviedo, Florida working on townhouses in the small community. The students learned valuable new skills, made new friendships and stepped outside of their comfort zones.

Being a part of Collegiate Challenge allowed me to have so many experiences that most people wouldn’t, such as I am now able to say that I have slept on church chairs for an entire week and they were pretty comfortable,” said sophomore Alexis Kishimoto. “It was, no joke, one of the best weeks of my life.” Among the students who took part in last year’s trip, it was agreed that one of the best parts of the week was meeting the families who would be living in the new homes.

Naturally, an undertaking of this magnitude takes work to put together. Marist’s Habitat Board works throughout the first semester fundraising, planning and coordinating with Habitat affiliates in the community that they will be going to.

Starting in October, we randomly select 24 students who expressed interest in the trip by signing up,” President Shannon McCormack said. “Next, we select our Collegiate Challenge site location. Immediately after, we contact the site introducing ourselves and settle on our arrival and departure dates.  Then we purchase our flights and establish a set price for each student.  The next couple months consist of fundraising for the trip with help from Marist Dining Services by working the concession stands at the basketball games and selling raffle tickets with really cool prizes, in addition to other things.”

All of this hard work pays off when Marist students return from spring break with a new sense of accomplishment and awareness about the world. Any Collegiate Challenge alumni would be quick to recommend it to people who are considering signing up. This year’s Collegiate Challenge team is eager to begin this journey of giving back in Alabama. McCormack shared this wisdom with the current Collegiate Challenge team and anyone considering getting involved in the future.

It is worth every second when we create memories that will last a lifetime, while giving a family the home they have always dreamed of; no spring break can top that,” she said.

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1 Comment

  1. Tom humphrey

    this writer entices participation with verbal clarity and precision,

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