Service Learning and Habitat for Humanity offer spring break trips

Contributed photo: Students pose for a picture on the roof during the Habitat for Humanity spring break trip.Contributed photo: Students pose for a picture on the roof during the Habitat for Humanity spring break trip.

If you ask anyone what they did, or plan to do, over spring break, you’ll probably expect to hear answers related to going on vacation. But, for some students at Mercyhurst, spring break meant something more than just relaxing after a long term at school.

The Service Learning program and Habitat for Humanity offered unique trips for students to spend their spring break a little differently.

Campus Ministry and Service Learning have a program called the “Alternative Break Program” which offers students a variety of different trips over the break. There were two trips sponsored by the Mercyhurst Chapter of Habitat for Humanity. One was to Mississippi and the other was to North Carolina.The North Carolina trip was known as the House that Hurst Built. The trip cost $175 and covered everything from food, expenses, and housing. The trip involved a group of students volunteering to rebuild a house that was knocked down.

The trip lasted for six days. The students on the trip left the Sunday after finals week, and came back on that following Saturday. Five of those six days were work days for the students.

According to junior Katy Adams, who went on the trip, there are three phases to house building. The students on this trip only focused on the first phase.

“The first phase involves laying down the foundation of the house and putting up the rest of the floors and walls,” Adams said. “The second phase involves roofing and the third phase involves putting up windows and doors.”

Students on the North Carolina trip also had some down time in between working on the house building. When they first arrived, they went through an orientation explaining what they would do for that week.

A special activity they did over the week was called “Secret Admirer.” This involved the students pulling names out of a hat, leaving little gifts for that person whose name they pulled for the week, and then guessing who their secret admirer was at the end of the week.

They also did activities such as going to the zoo, icebreakers, playing other fun games, and going out to dinner each night.

The Mississippi trip also involved helping build a house. However, unlike the North Carolina trip, this one involved going through the first and second phases. This involved the students putting in the foundation of the house and also putting the roofing on the house. This trip cost $225 for students.

Senior Kaleigh Hubert went on this trip. Hubert first joined Habitat for Humanity last year and has gone on two spring break trips in the program. These include the Mississippi trip and last year when Habitat for Humanity went to Albany, Georgia.

“They were both great trips, but I definitely think I liked this year’s trip the most,” Hubert said.

Hubert says that the most memorable part of the Mississippi trip was everyone working together as a team. Another memorable part was seeing the house owner and showing him the progression of his home.

“I would recommend these trips to anyone. Helping out is a big part,” Hubert said.

Service Learning is already looking to the future for other alternative spring break opportunities.

According to Service Learning Director Colin Hurley, they are looking at the semester break next year with the calendar change. Hurley says the trips will most likely occur during March, but the J-Term will also be a possibility. There will be approximately four to six trips planned.

“Specific trips are not planned yet, but the program will look similar with the calendar change,” Hurley said.

If you would like to know more about alternative spring break opportunities contact Colin Hurley at 814-824-4271 or