by Kelley Holocker '15
Note: This story also appears in the April issue of the Sho'men Club Newsletter. To become a member of the Sho'men Club, click here.
Women's soccer sophomore Kelley Holocker spent her spring break in Georgia participating in Washington College's Habitat For Humanity. She was one of three student-athletes who were on the trip, the other two being sophomore field hockey players Meredith Andrews and Brit Barr. Here is her experience.
When I signed up to join Habitat for Humanity, I thought I was joining a group on campus where I would have the chance to give back to the local community here in Chestertown. Little did I know, I was joining a family that changes the lives of not only those whom they help, but their fellow team members as well.
For the first time, I spent my spring break helping build houses in Albany and Columbus, Georgia and it was better than any vacation I could have taken in its place. As we packed up our vans early Saturday morning and made our way to Holly's restaurant for breakfast, I immediately felt welcomed into the Habitat group. Needless to say, it made the 14-hour drive to Georgia so much more fun than I think any of us expected. Between our countless jam sessions to Macklemore's "Thrift Shop" and endless Mumford and Sons, my van bonded within a small amount of time and our friendship continued to grow as the trip progressed throughout the week.
I was really nervous about the actual building aspect of the trip, especially because I was new and had no clue how to build a house; just hitting a nail without hitting my thumb was a difficult task for me! Despite my nerves, the team helped me forget them all through their patience and willingness to teach me just about everything, ranging from hanging siding to putting up walls on the framing in a new house. I learned so many new skills within one week I felt like I was ready to build anything, and I owe it to the members on my team!
Even while working on a house everyday, 8 am-4 pm, our entire group never stopped having fun. We had so many group activities off the job site such as, mini golf, laser tag, backyard football, capture the flag, extreme spoons, and so many more. There were nights when we were exhausted from working all day but we didn't want to go to bed because all we wanted to do was play games with the rest of the team. I can't remember a moment on the trip when I wasn't laughing or having an amazing time.
When it comes down to it, Habitat changed me in ways I didn't think possible. To be given the opportunity to contribute your time and effort into building a house for someone less fortunate, is humbling and probably the biggest reward once can receive. We attended a dedication for a house the team had build last spring break, and I was able to witness the raw emotions of gratitude and happiness in the new home owner. I wasn't able to help with this house last year but the emotions I felt having only been there for a week amazed me because I knew what kind of hard work and sweat was put into that house. All in all, I didn't realize this experience would have such a big effect on me and I am eager to be able to help build with my team again. I encourage anyone to join our Habitat family to be able to experience the happiness in helping others that I have found within my trip to Georgia!