Habitat for Humanity
Trinity CommunicationsDecember 08, 2016
Students from Trinity’s 2015-2016 Habitat for Humanity chapter standing in front of a house they helped to build | Photo by Kelsey Schenk
Trinity College junior Kelsey Schenk remembers distinctly how, during her freshman year in 2013-2014, one of her Trinity professors had told his students that in order to complete his class, they had to earn a service learning credit.
Most Trinity students have no experience with service learning credit until at least their sophomore year, since by that point many have taken IDS 150 (Foundations in Christian Living and Thinking) and have received some guidance on how to approach service learning. However, for this class, Schenk and her fellow classmates prepared themselves for the volunteer work ahead.
A meeting was being held in Melton Hall to talk about service learning requirements, and Schenk decided to go so she could be better informed about how to get her credit. Once there, she listened to various groups, including members of Trinity’s Community Partnerships Cabinet (CPC), talk about what service learning was and how to achieve credit.
When Schenk, a business major with an emphasis in Ministry and Nonprofit Management, heard about Habitat for Humanity from CPC at the meeting, she decided to join the campus chapter of the organization to both get her credit and earn some experience in her field. Little did she know then how involved she would become with the group, and with their mission.
Habitat for Humanity is a Christian, nonprofit organization that started in 1976, although its website states that its unofficial history started in 1973. At that time, Habitat co-founders Millard and Linda Fuller took their concept of partnership housing and applied it in poor communities in Africa for three years. Their goal was to have a person or family in need of a home working together with volunteers to construct adequate housing made at no profit. When that idea proved successful, the Fullers brought it back to the United States.
According to Schenk, the current president of Trinity’s campus chapter of Habitat for Humanity, Trinity’s chapter started up within the last ten years. The group has had a very small following since its beginning, with a somewhere around four students in the chapter at a time. The largest number of student volunteers that consistently attended Habitat meetings was 13 people, which was last year’s number.
As volunteers in Trinity’s chapter, students have the opportunity to serve during Habitat’s build days, work in the Gurnee ReStore (a place where donated supplies for homes can be purchased at discount prices), and help plan on-campus events. In addition, the group communicates and convenes with Habitat for Humanity Lake County Executive Director Julie Donovan once a month.
This year’s group has been meeting Monday evenings at 9:45 p.m., with their last meeting of the semester held on December 5. During these meetings, they plan out volunteer hours, discuss group topics and brainstorm and coordinate on-campus events.
Some events that the group planned for this semester were the Habitrot held during Parents and Family Weekend, the once-a-semester build day planned for last Saturday, December 3 that ended up being postponed at the last minute, and the Holly Jolly Holiday event being held tomorrow, Thursday, December 8.
Holly Jolly Holiday was an event that Schenk and her team came up with last year after brainstorming about how to host a successful Christmas event. The year before that, the group had sold hot chocolate around Christmas time and did not make much money to give to Habitat for Humanity Lake County.
During the event, Trinity community members are welcome to come and go as they please, taking part in a variety of activities as they hang around Waybright during the annual Christmas banquet held in the Dining Hall. Director of Discipleship and Pastoral Care Scott Samuelson will be dressing up as Santa Claus, and students and families can take photos with him free of charge. In addition, community performers will be playing live Christmas music.
The featured fundraising activity for this year’s Holly Jolly Holiday, taking place from 5-8 p.m., is an opportunity to create a do-it-yourself Christmas tree ornament for $1. All the money made from these ornaments will be going directly to Habitat for Humanity of Lake County.
Although her team is small, Schenk has hopes that Habitat will grow and that students will see it as a great opportunity for service.
“If we had more students involved, the possibilities are endless,” Schenk said. “[The group] has a lot of potential. It’s a great ministry and a great way to earn service learning credit.”
Schenk is also currently looking for students interested in joining the group and taking on a leadership role next year, as she is a student in the undergrad three-year program and will be graduating in the spring.