Spring Break Arkansas: Marist Students Head South to Help Build Family a New Home

Marist Habitat for Humanity Campus Chapter to Participate in Collegiate Challenge

POUGHKEEPSIE- Marist students and staff are in Fort Smith, Ark. during this week's spring break to help build a new home for a family in need as part of Habitat for Humanity’s Collegiate Challenge.

Twenty-four Marist students and three staff members, who serve as advisors to the campus chapter of the national housing organization, are spending their time off from school with hammers and power tools in hand in the city of about 90,000 residents in northeast Arkansas, on the Oklahoma border.

 “I’m really looking forward to working alongside my fellow members of the Marist community to help build a new home for a family,” said Habitat chapter member Caitlin Kelly ’15 of Seaford, N.Y. “Meeting these families and other Habitat volunteers is always a great experience, even more so when the build is in a very different part of the country.” Marist Habitat Florida 2012

For the past 24 years, more than 208,000 students have spent their school breaks volunteering across the country through Habitat for Humanity’s Collegiate Challenge program, donating more than $20 million in labor and other in-kind contributions to the organization’s local affiliates. 

Marist students spent last year’s spring break building a home in Punta Gorda, Fla. (right) While there, they had lunch with about a dozen Marist alumni from Southern Florida, including Florida Alumni Chapter President Ernie Arico, Jr. ’76, who produced a short video of the students, staff, and their work. 

This year’s build is just the latest in a series of events that the very active Marist Habitat chapter has been involved with since it was revived in 2007, including participating in builds in the Hudson Valley, taking part in Relay for Life, and building “Habitat Huts” to raise awareness on campus of homelessness and other housing issues. The Marist chapter currently has more than 300 members and had three student applicants for each spot on the Fort Smith trip.

In Arkansas, students are staying in volunteer housing and working with other volunteer groups under the direction of the local Habitat affiliate.

“The Collegiate Challenge provides a great opportunity for Marist students to harness their desire to help others,” said Tim Ondrey ’09, an IT applications report specialist and advisor to the Habitat chapter, “and in the process, they help build something that provides a family with one of life’s most basic needs.”

To keep track of its experience in Arkansas, follow the Marist Habitat for Humanity Chapter on Twitter at @MaristHabitat