Building houses means learning, friendships for Roanoke student

by rcnewsblog on November 2, 2012

Post image for Building houses means learning, friendships for Roanoke student
Roanoke College students pose for a group photo during the October Habitat for Humanity trip to South Carolina. Kayla Fuller is the third student from the right on the second row.

Kayla Fuller of Damascus, Va., is a junior at Roanoke College and a student writer in the College’s public relations office. She reflects on her adventures building houses with Habitat for Humanity.

When midterm exams are over, I know Columbia, S.C. is calling my name and that I am ready for another adventure. Every fall break for the past three years I have packed my bags, grabbed my pillow and piled into a van to go on a Roanoke College Habitat for Humanity trip.

This past fall break, Oct. 12- Oct. 19, was my fourth Habitat trip, and it will not be my last.

There is something about a Habitat trip that keeps students, like me, coming back. Maybe it’s helping someone, the great food or the thrill of climbing up onto a roof with a saw in your hand.

When you build a house for Habitat, you actually get to meet the homeowner who will eventually live there. This fall break we worked on a house for Andrise, a single mother from Haiti.

Andrise was at the site working on her home alongside us. No matter her job, she always had a glowing smile on her face. Despite her hardships, she still has an incredible amount of joy. I came away from this trip feeling like Andrise affected me as much as I affected her.

Not only have I gotten to see the personal difference that I have made in other people’s lives, I have done things that I never would have expected to do in college.

Before my first trip to Columbia, I had probably only held a hammer and nailed a few nails. I never imagined that during my first trip I would be using a skill saw or shingling a roof. Now, after a few trips, I can handle almost any power tool, and I actually understand the process of building a house.

This year, when we drove up to the build site, only the bricks were laid out for the foundation. Over the next five days, our group worked together to build the walls, put on the roof, and put up most of the siding on the house. It was astounding to see a house appear in an empty lot in less than a week.

Despite the hard work of building a house, there is room for plenty of fun. Whether we are trying out dance moves on the scaffolding or playing corn hole during lunch, the job site is constantly filled with laughter.

Every night after a long day of building, we were rewarded with phenomenal dinners prepared by local South Carolinians. The real Southern cuisine consisted of fried chicken, barbeque, and of course the famous Griffin family Chicken Bog, a pot filled with rice, chicken and sausage.

There are so many great things about Habitat, but the real reason that I have continued to go on these trips is because of the people who go with me.

Roanoke Chaplain Paul Henrickson always says that when we come together to build a community, a house happens. That statement is what Roanoke Habitat trips are about. On the first day I only knew a few other students, but as the week went on the friendships blossomed. By the end of the week, we all had become very close.

This October, our group drove into South Carolina as strangers and came back to Roanoke as family.

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