Habitat has three colleges help out at Haugh site this past week

Published 12:39 am Sunday, March 15, 2009

Three out-of-state colleges brought students into Picayune during this past week to help build homes for Habitat for Humanity.

Some of the students were in town for a week, others only had a couple of days to lend their hands, but it was all used to its fullest potential.

The three colleges were the Holy Cross College in Indiana, which brought 16 students; Villanova in Pennsylvania, which brought about 55 students, and Webster University in Missouri, which brought about 25 students.

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Holly Cross was in the area for about a week before the students headed back home to Indiana, said Chris Dreyer, director of Counseling Services. This was the second trip by students at the school to the county.

Sara Gunn and her fellow Webster University students spent about a week in Picayune. Not only did they help with Habitat construction, but they also lent a hand with some other community needs. Gunn and her fellow students helped with the Special Olympics event at the Picayune Memorial High School and also installed flooring at the United Baptist Church. Their time here also afforded them an opportunity to talk to other people now living in Habitat for Humanity homes next door to their construction site on South Haugh Avenue. Gunn said the chance to interact with the community helped her build a relationship with the area.

“It was fun and rewarding. I got to know the community because I met a lot of people,” Gunn said.

Even though this was Gunn’s fourth volunteer trip, this was her first trip to Pearl River County.

Gunn is a senior and this year’s team leader so this may be her last trip, but she will train future team leaders to get involved in the community when they take similar trips.

Villanova instructor Bob Nydick and his volunteer students were here on their eighth trip to Pearl River County. Arriving on Thursday, they worked Friday and Saturday to do as much work as they could to the two Habitat homes. Of the 55 students who came this trip, Nydick said about 30 have been in Pearl River County on the previous trip last year. He said this year he was able to gather his biggest group of students.

Villanova students Sean Olejar and Rebecca Stien said they were enjoying their trip. Olejar said it has provided him with a different perspective of the impact Hurricane Katrina had on the area.

This was both Stien and Olejar’s first Habitat for Humanity trip and now they plan to take another volunteer trip next year. Stien said that just in the two days that they worked, she could see the amount of work that was completed on each home.

“It’s pretty amazing,” Stien said.

As for manual labor, Olejar found a positive side about it.

“It’s a lot of hard work building a home, but it’s a fun trip,” Olejar said.