Friday, February 19, 2010
More than three dozen Westminster College students and staff will participate in Habitat for Humanity's Collegiate Challenge alternative spring break March 6-13 in Birmingham, Ala.
According to Carey Anne M. LaSor, assistant to the chaplain and Habitat adviser, Westminster student volunteers come from all disciplines and include first-time participants and returnees.
Westminster has been named to the President's Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll for three straight years. Nearly 80% of Westminster students volunteered last year, three times the national average and nearly twice the national average for college students.
Senior accounting major Zack Wahal is returning for his second trip. "I chose to come again because of the great experience I had in Mississippi [last year]," he said. "We have our entire lives to visit the beach, but a trip like this is an opportunity to give back to those who are in need."
Leadership for the Westminster group will be provided by LaSor; Dr. Jacque King, assistant professor of business; Jim Dafler, director of athletics; and 2009 Westminster graduate Andrew Smith.
Smith, who recently accepted a position as review agent with National Real Estate Information Services, hasn't been with the company long enough to have vacation days, so he is taking the week off without pay to accompany the group. The opportunity to spend time with his siblings, twins Caitlin and Zach Smith, who are current Westminster students, "is really a blessing."
"It's not about putting yourself in someone else's shoes-someone who has lost a home or been through a hard situation," Smith said. "It's about standing next to that person, working alongside them to accomplish things you never expected, and seeing that, even after hardship, that person is full of joy and gratitude that you're there with them."
King is a veteran Habitat volunteer. "Of the many reasons I participate in Habitat for Humanity, the number one reason I continue is the opportunity to serve others and to make their lives better than the way we found them," he said. "Whether it is the continued effort to clean up after Hurricane Katrina in 2005 or simply building a new house for a single mother and her children, helping others is my duty as a Christian."
This will be Dafler's first Habitat trip. "I thought it would be a great experience to participate in one of these types of trips," he said. "When I heard that another driver was needed for this trip, it just seemed that this was not only an opportunity to participate in a great cause, but also an opportunity to help our students. I am sure it will be a memorable experience."
From February to April, Collegiate Challenge participants from across the country will volunteer in 200 Habitat locations. In the past 21 years of the program, more than 168,000 Collegiate Challenge participants have volunteered with Habitat during their spring breaks.
Habitat for Humanity International is an ecumenical Christian ministry that welcomes to its work all people dedicated to the cause of eliminating poverty housing. Since its founding in 1976, Habitat has built, rehabilitated, repaired, or improved more than 350,000 houses worldwide, providing simple, decent, and affordable shelter for more than 1.75 million people. Visit www.habitat.org for more information.
Contact LaSor at (724) 946-7365 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org for more information about the Westminster chapter and the trip.
About Westminster College...
Founded in 1852 and related to the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), Westminster College is a top tier liberal arts college and a national leader in graduation rate performance, according to U.S. News Guide to America's Best Colleges. Westminster ranked third among liberal arts colleges in social mobility, according to the Washington Monthly College Guide, and is one of the most affordable national liberal arts colleges in Pennsylvania. Westminster is also honored as one of "The Best 371 Colleges" and "Best in the Northeast" by The Princeton Review, and is named to the President's Honor Roll for excellence in service learning.
Nearly 1,600 undergraduate and graduate students benefit from individualized attention from dedicated faculty while choosing from 41 majors and nearly 100 organizations on the New Wilmington, Pa., campus. Visit www.westminster.edu/advantage to view "Advantage: Westminster" A Strategic Plan 2010-2020.