Inside Rensselaer
Volume 6, No. 9, May 11, 2012

Habitat For Humanity

Working to build homes for families in need

Every year during the spring semester, several community and service-minded students from Rensselaer spend their spring break swinging hammers, installing drywall, and completing various construction duties as part of the Habitat for Humanity’s annual Collegiate Challenge. This spring, eight students traveled to Exmore, Va., a small town that has been dubbed the “treasure of Virginia’s eastern shore.”

The students worked alongside local volunteers, college students from other chapters—including a group of students from St. Joseph’s College in Connecticut—and the future homeowners themselves to construct energy-efficient houses. The Rensselaer students are Emily Nebiolo, who served as the trip coordinator; along with Bree Mobley, Carla Toland, Mike Kehoe, Angel Sanchez, David Hayden, and Vinh Nguyen.

“This was my first time on the Habitat Collegiate Challenge trip and it was an experience I will never forget,” said Gina Paolillo, a senior majoring in biomedical engineering, who is president for the Rensselaer chapter of Habitat for Humanity. “This was such as rewarding trip because we know our efforts will help a family in need move into a simple, decent, and affordable home.

“Beyond the work, we also had an opportunity to interact with members of the community,” Paolillo added. “The people we worked with truly showed us the meaning of Southern hospitality. They held a game night, two lunches on site, and a potluck dinner for us. The steward of the church we were staying at even brought us fresh oysters he had caught earlier that day and cooked them for us around the bonfire. We all had a great time and I know I speak for everyone when I say we were all sorry to leave at the end of the week.”
The students stayed in the Belle Haven United Methodist Church in Belle Haven, Va. Throughout the week, the students completed several projects at the Exmore site that included: sub-flooring and framing, putting up all of the exterior and interior walls, and also putting up plywood around the home’s exterior.

During the trip, the students carved out some time for sight-seeing. While in Virginia, they visited Chincoteague Island. Located in the far northeastern portion of Virginia’s Eastern Shore, the beauty of the quaint paradise island draws over one million visitors annually and has become the home of over 4,300 residents.

Started in 1989, Collegiate Challenge is Habitat for Humanity’s year-round alternative break program that provides opportunities for students to spend a week of their school break building homes in partnership with a Habitat affiliate in the United States. In the 20-year history of the program, more than 166,000 young people have contributed more than $15.5 million and countless hours to Habitat’s mission of providing simple, decent, affordable housing to people who need it.

The Rensselaer Habitat for Humanity Chapter continues to support the local community. The group has worked on multiple sites in the city of Troy, and in Rensselaer and Albany counties, completing four homes in the area. They also fully sponsored and built a home in the city of Troy. The chapter also built a home on the corner of 11th and Hutton streets in Troy, in partnership with the Rensselaer County Habitat for Humanity chapter.


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Inside Rensselaer
Volume 6, Number 4, May 11, 2012
©2012 Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
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