Students and staff members from Naugatuck Valley Community College are just back from a week at the Jersey shore, but they weren’t there for rest and relaxation; they were there to volunteer for Habitat for Humanity’s Collegiate Challenge. Nearly three years after Superstorm Sandy devastated coastal communities in New Jersey, the rebuilding in some areas is far from done and volunteers from NVCC have again answered the challenge to help.
The eight students and two faculty and staff members worked on two homes in Monmouth County, pouring and mixing concrete, framing walls, digging holes and demolishing a deck—all under the direction of Habitat for Humanity’s crew. Because there weren’t suitable accommodations near the worksites, the group from the College stayed each night in a church basement and commuted an hour in each direction to the work zone.
“It was a great experience. It was a lot of fun as well,” said NVCC student Chris Ferreira of Danbury. Ferreira previously performed volunteer work as part of a youth group and felt the desire to get more involved. He said it was not only rewarding to help people in need, but also to build a stronger bond with fellow students outside of the typical College environment.
This is the second year that a group from NVCC has traveled to the area to help with the rebuilding effort—made possible by funding from the College’s Student Government Association. Marian Zerbi, a Mathematics Instructor at NVCC, made the trip again this year after coming up with the idea last year. When the Hispanic Student Union Club she advises at the College wanted to do more community service, Zerbi researched the options and decided the Habitat for Humanity opportunity was a good fit.
Karen Blake, Director of Student Activities, said the work this year was much more physical than what volunteers from NVCC did in 2014. “We had a great group of students; they worked really hard and represented the College really well,” she said. “The homeowners were very grateful… they really were appreciative… they cooked for us.” Blake said students are already excited about the potential of returning to the area next summer to continue their work.
Check out more photos from the trip on Facebook.