UMW Students Spend Spring Break with Habitat for Humanity

While some of their friends soaked up sun on the beach, 51 University of Mary Washington students donated their time building and rehabilitating houses—and having the time of their lives in the process.

Students build a house in Wilmington, N.C., during a 2011 Alternative Spring Break trip

This year, the student-run Community Outreach and Resources (COAR) team organized three alternative spring break trips, in Wilmington, N.C., Avery County, N.C., and Cookeville, Tenn., from March 3 through 11. At each location, the students collaborated with Habitat for Humanity to help eliminate substandard housing.

Senior Vicky Hudspeth, the COAR alternative spring break coordinator, has been on two previous spring break trips, leading the trip to Bunnell, Fla., in her sophomore year, and this year led the trip in Cookeville.

“In the past, we have done almost every stage of construction, including laying the foundation, installing siding and drywall, and laying sod,” Hudspeth said.  “It is an incredible week where we can give back to the communities and help those in need, while having a blast at the same time.”

Sophomore Regina Weiss is amazed by the construction skills she has acquired after participating in both the alternative fall and spring breaks, and also realizes how valuable her efforts are to the communities.

“Working with Habitat provides such a sense of accomplishment and purpose,” Weiss said.  “Instead of lying around my house for a week in March, I’m helping to build someone’s house.  The differences our groups make in families’ lives are incredible.”

Alternative Spring Break is part of Habitat for Humanity’s Collegiate Challenge, which calls students to aid impoverished communities.  In the past 23 years, approximately 194,000 students have participated in the program nationwide.  Christina Eggenberger, director of service in the Office of Community Service, said UMW has been involved in the program for at least 15 years.

“Spring Break is one of my favorite weeks of the year since I get to spend the entire week doing hands-on service with such civic minded students,” Eggenberger said.  “The students learn practical skills but more importantly they help and learn about people in need. It is a transformative experience for all involved.”

To learn more about the trips, visit

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News release prepared by:  Anne Elder          

About Brynn Boyer

Brynn Boyer is assistant director of media and public relations and a 2010 graduate of UMW.