For the first time since 2019, Tacoma Habitat hosted four consecutive weeks of Collegiate Challenge groups through our alternative spring break service program. For many of the 67 participants, this was their first experience with Habitat for Humanity. Each group spent one day serving with our Habitat Stores, assembling SimpliHome furniture. For the rest of the week, the students built alongside the construction crew at our south Tacoma development, Madison Meadow. Across the four weeks, the students contributed an incredible 1,487.5 hours of volunteer labor to our stores and construction efforts. We are grateful these students chose to spend their school breaks with us!
March kicked off with 16 energetic students and faculty from Sacred Heart University in Connecticut. The students made incredible progress on siding, caulking, and installing joist hangers at Madison Meadow. Their chaperones, Amanda and Kate, worked with Construction Site Manager Nick Zolle to build and install the kitchen countertop for lot two. The student’s kindness and care towards each other and our construction crew was palpable—an absolute joy to work with.
Our biggest group of the month was Columbia from New York, with 22 people! They primarily sided and landscaped, making great progress on the houses and helping to level the front and back yards in preparation for topsoil and sod. They were also great sports about digging and redistributing huge piles of dirt for the driveways; There is strength in numbers and they proved that. They even made time for wheelbarrow races!
With the third week, came a smaller, yet just as enthusiastic group of 12 from California State University San Marcos. They brought the sun for the week– figuratively and literally! Together, assembled furniture, hung siding, and did landscaping. A few students noted how one of our wonderful frequent volunteers, Pam Voss, took a few of them under her wing and patiently guided them through new tasks. The week ended with a lunchtime hammer game that Construction Project Manager Nick Jackson learned from Next Step Ministries. Nick says, “the game is a fun way to encourage others to practice and become more precise with their hammer swing.”
Collegiate Challenge 2023 concluded with the University of Oregon. The group of 17 worked on landscaping, building a retaining wall, installing siding and digging fence post holes. About half of the group spent the last day clearing debris with Construction Site Manager Ken at an upcoming Habitat development in Tillicum. One of their student leaders who connected with a future Madison Meadow homeowner, said, “Aimie’s excitement for her two sons to now have a lawn to play on was infectious and it was really fun to lay some (very soft) sod down for them in that spirit.”
Tacoma Habitat extends a huge thank you to Rainier View Christian Church for hosting Sacred Heart University and University of Oregon on their campus. We are grateful to all who provided snacks and lunches for the students, including Harbor Christian Center, First Presbyterian Church in Puyallup and Mountain Highway Baptist Church.