FMU group builds for Habitat for Humanity

Daniel Purves, Staff Writer

Students and professors from Francis Marion University spent their Spring Break building houses for those in need of housing in Sebring, Fla.

“Nine students and two professors went on the Habitat for Humanity trip to aid the less fortunate,” Samora Channer-Parkinson, a junior majoring in history, said.

Habitat for Humanity is an international Christian charity that seeks to help people out of the cycle of poverty by building reasonable houses and providing loans that are affordable.

“It gets low income people into stable housing and on the road to the middle class,” Assistant Professor of Philosophy Dr. Matt Turner said. “With the rate of foreclosures, there is an increased need for the work Habitat for Humanity is doing.”

The team worked at Masons Ridge, one of the largest projects that Habitat for Humanity has underway.  The housing development will provide 59 affordable, safe and decent single family homes.

“We got up way too early, had breakfast, drove to the site where we had a meeting and were assigned to work groups,” Turner said. “We worked from 7:30 a.m. till 3 p.m. doing all sorts of things. At the end of the day we cleaned up the site, went back to the campsite and enjoyed the afternoon.”

Because the development was large, there were a wide variety of jobs available including building drywalls, framing, roofing, putting siding on the houses, painting, laying sod, metal work, forming sidewalks and pouring concrete.

“I don’t know for sure, but my impression was that the students had trepidation because of the unfamiliar aspect of home construction,” Turner said. “But everyone down there learned a new skill and got comfortable with it. Not to put too fine a point on it; they grew in a way they didn’t expect.”

Once the work day was over, the team joined students from other colleges, who were also volunteering, back at the campsite for kayaking, barbecues, campfires and other such activities.

“It was hot and full of insects, but it was beautiful,” Channer-Parkinson said. “It was a very sociable atmosphere.”

According to Turner, everyone had a go on a canoe or kayak, even those students who had never tried it before.

“The highlight of the trip was looking for alligators at midnight,” Channer-Parkinson said. “That was strange ‘cause I can’t swim, and like every normal person, I’m scared of ‘gators.”

The trip was funded by a grant from the Quality Enhancement Plan, which aims to provide students with non-traditional out of class educational opportunities.

“The hope is that fundraising will finance a trip next year, or possibly over a two year period, depending on student interest,” Turner said.

“I recommend it to others,” Channer-Parkinson said. “You get a sense of accomplishment. I can always go back and say, ‘I did that.’”