On the afternoon of Saturday, March 9, a group of 18 drove away from the St. Ambrose campus. It was spring break. They were traveling to sunny Corpus Christi, Texas. But this was a different kind of trip.
It was the eighth time that the SAU Habitat for Humanity campus chapter had used spring break to help build decent, affordable housing for others as part of Habitat International's Collegiate Challenge.
"Spring break started with a 22-hour van ride," said Tom Moothart, SAU Habitat for Humanity staff advisor. Arriving Sunday afternoon, the group had an early Monday wake-up—6:15 a.m. "We had to meet the building site coordinator at 7:30, so an early start was necessary, but a little painful," Moothart admitted.
The group first traveled to three different habitat homes to get a sense of their homebuilding process.
One home's foundation was being poured; another's walls were just going up; and the third home was in the final stages of completion. After a long day of work on the first two homes, the St. Ambrose group relaxed sore muscles on the beach.
The rest of the week included walls, walls and more walls!
It was the (temporary) lack of walls—and a blaring radio—that gave some members of the group reason to take a little break. The St. Ambrose women did their best Irish jig (and the Wobble, we're told) on the concrete slab of the home's shed.
Everyone got to meet and work with Maria and her 11-year old son, whose home they were helping to build. One morning Maria's friend surprised the group with homemade breakfast tacos, which were "fantastic," according to Moothart. "The service trip was a good experience for our students, to spend this time helping. I believe it was an eye-opening experience, as well."
According to St. Ambrose junior Melissa Fielding, the entire week was rewarding.
"I got to do a lot of work I've never done before," admitted the exercise science major. "Getting to know the family whose house we were working on just really made it all worth it. It was such a great atmosphere to be in, with everyone working together, having a good time."
"I didn't want to leave," she added wistfully.