UCF Volunteers on Winter Break

“For me home is a lot about security. If you have a place that you feel safe in, that’s really important, because if you don’t feel safe, it’s really tough to thrive in an environment where you’re constantly worrying.” – Randy Larson, UCF Volunteer

“What home means to me is a place where you belong. It’s somewhere where you’re welcomed and if you were to live the rest of your life there, that’s something you’d be comfortable and happy with.” – Brentton Ingraham, UCF Volunteer

As with many alternative break programs, the students at the University of Central Florida don’t get to pick where they are going, just what cause they will be supporting. This December, a small group of students who signed up to support affordable housing joined NOAHH on site for their winter break.

“We love it,” said Brentton Ingraham, one of the student coordinators of the trip. “All our participants are really enjoying it. We’ve been bonding really well, just helping build the house from the ground up. We did the walls. We did the base yesterday and now we’re doing the floor. By the end of the week the whole foundation should be completed.”

“I went on a trip last year for alternative break as a participant, not as a leader,” said Randy Larson, the other student trip leader, “and we went to Fort Myers, Florida, and we actually worked with Habitat there as well. This year we got our location, that we were doing New Orleans, and we were able to choose whatever social topic we wanted. There’s a website called Break Away that’s a national database of organizations and housing sites that they’ve worked with in the past. So we filtered it to be humanitarian relief, because that’s something that we really decided we wanted to focus on. We found Habitat through that. We got into contact and communication was good, so we felt like it was a good pick.”

Despite a few sore thumbs, the students enjoyed their time on site and appreciated learning from the construction staff.

“The Habitat staff has been really good at taking us through the basics in terms of what to do—the power tools, hammers, and all that kind of stuff,” said Brentton. “So it’s been really easy and we’re really excited to get the work done.”

“They taught us how to do everything, and that measurements are super important,” said Randy, “but then also that if you make a mistake it’s okay, we can fix it—don’t be afraid to put yourself out there. They’re really encouraging. Even if you do a nail and it’s half-crooked, they’re like, ‘Oh good job! I see you you’re trying.’ It’s really nice, because sometimes that’s really discouraging if you’ve never done it before, so I really like that they’re doing that for our participants.