AU students inspire change during alternative spring break trip

Habitat for Humanity

Toussaint Egan (left), AU ’13, and Cody Fuerst (right), AU ’14, participate in the Habitat for Humanity Collegiate Challenge.

By: Toussaint Egan, AU ’13

What are the first things that come to mind when you hear the words “spring break?” Luxurious time spent under the sun on a west coast beach or curling up under the covers for a week-long Netflix marathon? How about driving out to Indiana to paint walls, use a power saw and rip out a sink? That is how I and nineteen other Aurora University students spent our spring break as we renovated houses in St. Joseph County, Ind. as part of the Habitat for Humanity Collegiate Challenge.

I had recently graduated from AU with a degree in communication and was soon after offered the opportunity to participate in an alternative spring break trip with Director of Student Leadership Kris Johnson and students from the Leadership Education And Development certificate program, a program that seeks to develop the leadership knowledge and skills of AU students.

Having never gone on a volunteer trip before, I was apprehensive but when I learned more about the cause and the organization that we would be working with, I knew I had to sign up

Habitat for Humanity is a global organization dedicated to providing tax-reduced housing for low-income areas. The company, founded in 1976 by millionaire Millard Fuller, is dedicated to bring like-minded volunteers and professional carpenters together to build not only homes but to strengthen communities and inspire hope.

While renovating houses, we got to stay at the beautiful Oaks country-house at Southpaw Farms. After a hard day’s work of peeling off trim with crowbars, repairing drywall and dousing the walls in three coats of primer, we were able to bond over the experience back at the Oaks house. I got the chance to meet a couple of new familiar faces that I had previously only seen in passing during my time at AU and I have to say I’m happy to have worked and lived with them in the same house for a week.

Looking back at my time in Indiana, I’m thankful for the opportunity to work alongside the incredible carpenters of the St. Joseph County chapter and my equally incredible classmates. Our supervisors Daan, Greg, Gerry and Craig were wonderful hosts and I sincerely hope I’ll have the opportunity to work with them again. There was not a moment during my time working with Habitat for Humanity where I regretted my decision to volunteer or lost sight of the impact of our contribution. The houses that we renovated during that week are better places for our effort; places where families who we likely will never meet will otherwise come to call home.

Working with Habitat for Humanity was a transformative experience, one that I would recommend to any person student or otherwise. I’m thankful that my time at Aurora University allowed me to be a part of something so much bigger than myself.