Concordia’s chapter of Habitat for Humanity announced seven spring break destinations, including a new trip open for alumni participation at a meeting Nov. 1 in Jones Science Center 212.

The 2009 Habitat for Humanity board announced the trip locations: Birmingham, Ala., Tupelo, Miss., Santa Fe, N.M., Taos, N.M., Dade City, Fla., Delray Beach, Fla., and Denver, Colo. Each trip will bring students to help build a house during Concordia’s spring break from Feb. 20 to 27.

Each spring break, Concordia’s chapter organizes groups to travel to different sites around the country to help build houses. The trips are each led by two student leaders and one faculty leader. The student leaders for each trip performed skits at the meeting to announce the destinations.

Habitat for Humanity purchases condemned properties and either repairs existing structures, or builds new houses on them for families in need of a home. The houses are built by volunteers who work alongside the house’s future owners. Funds for properties, trips, and building materials come from church and interest group donations, and volunteers.

Habitat for Humanity began in 1976 and got national attention in 1984 when former President Jimmy Carter became involved with the organization.

According to the Habitat for Humanity Web site, since it started, the organization has built over 300,000 homes for 1.5 million people. The Concordia chapter of Habitat for Humanity began in 1990.

For the first time at Concordia, one of the spring break Habitat for Humanity trips will be open to alumni. Board members chose Denver to be the alumni destination. There are places on the trip for 10 alumni and 10 current students, along with the trip leaders and faculty advisor.

Laura Rahman, Habitat for Humanity’s spring break trip co-coordinator, said the alumni trip was made to open communication lines between generations of Cobbers.

“For networking purposes, it’s going to be a great opportunity for students,” said Rahman.

The Denver trip was chosen because it is an easy mid-point in the country for alumni to travel to, said Searle Swedlund, associate director of Alumni Relations.
Swedlund said he has realistic expectations for which alumni will choose to go on the trip because it is easier for people of retirement age to spend a week away from home volunteering. He said he understands time away from work and family is difficult for younger alumni but hopes the trip will include volunteers of many different ages.

The spring break trips are estimated to cost around $400 per student and Rahman said she is optimistic about the participation this year, even with the down economy.

“We know the spots will fill up,” she said.

The sign-up procedure for the 2009 Habitat for Humanity trips will be different than they have been in the past. The Habitat board will not be sponsoring an overnight wait to sign up for the trips. Instead, students should bring their $100 deposit with them to the registration Sat., Nov., 14, at 8 a.m. in the West Oak Room in East Complex.

“We’re not discouraging people from staying overnight,” said Rahman. “If it happens, it happens.”

Rahman said the change in the registration system is different this year because the Habitat for Humanity board felt students who were enthusiastic about getting their first choice destination should get to the registration table early and on their own accord, instead of participating in an organized overnight event.

Melissa Orluck, Habitat for Humanity treasurer, said she is glad the all-night procedure is not going to happen this year because, although it was fun, going a weekend night without sleep is inconvenient for some students.

Orluck said Habitat for Humanity trips are important to her because she gets to meet new people, visit a fun destination for spring break, and help build homes for families who need one. She said the trips’ cost is reasonable for students who raise money, and she has been able to raise almost all of her funds on past trips.

Swedlund said because the volunteers pay to go and give up their time off school, the trips are a unique experience.

“I hope people get what I get from the trip,” he said. “[It is] a solid reminder of who we are and what we do as an institution.”

Julie Guggemos

Julie Guggemos is a senior at Concordia studying English Writing. In addition to her position as PULSE Editor at the Concordian, she is also an intern at the High Plains Reader, a publication out of Fargo, ND, and a tutor at Concordia's Writing Center. After graduation Julie plans to attend a publishing program and look for work in the publishing industry.

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