Spring Break: Service Trip Edition

Aubrie spent her spring break helping to provide a family with something they will cherish for a lifetime- a home. 

As a current Master of Animal Behaviour & Welfare Candidate at Guelph, Aubrie has shown that she is passionate about the well-being of all living things- human and non-human alike! Instead of spending her reading week lounging around, she decided to join some of her fellow students on a trip to build a house for a family in need.

We got to sit down with Aubrie and ask her some questions about her experience.

Where did you volunteer?

Dade City, Florida; it’s a pretty small town that’s about an hour outside of Tampa.

How many people were in your volunteer group?

I went with 21 other people. I got involved through the Habitat for Humanity group on campus. They had five or six trips this year so quite a few people got the chance to be involved. Some of them went to different cities in Florida.

What inspired you to spend your reading week doing charity work?

I had a few different ideas of what I wanted to do over the break, but a couple of my friends were actually leading this trip and really encouraged me to join. Two weeks before they were set to leave is when I finally decided that I really wanted to be a part of this. I’ve always wanted to do a Habitat for Humanity trip ever since I started volunteering with them locally in my hometown of Saskatoon. I figured this would my last chance to do one before I graduate this year.

What’s the breakdown of what you did on a day-to-day basis?

We got split up into 4 different groups each day and went to different sites.

The first day I got to go to the construction site and put up the walls in the house.

The second day I was helping out in the local ReStore; this is a really important aspect of the entire organization because the ReStore helps them to be able to fund all of the houses they build.

The next day we got to do some demolition on a train station that had been converted into an office building. I got to demolish the cubicles and help take the furniture and lumber back to the ReStore.

The last day I went back to the construction site and continued to set up the frame of the house.

Was it hard to just be thrown into a construction site?

There was a lot of hammering so it really depends on your arm strength, my arm strength isn’t that great but all of the other volunteers were really nice and they understand that you’ve never done something like this before. They’re all very welcoming and kind. There were lots of retired old couples that came down to Dade City for a few weeks to camp out and help build the houses.

What lasting impression did this experience leave on you?

It made me realise what a great organization Habitat for Humanity is. A lot of other service trips focus a lot of the tourism aspect. Meanwhile, Habitat for Humanity made me feel like I was actually making an impact. I got to really know the area and experience the community.

I feel like the lasting impression was less about what we constructed but more the people that we met. It really inspired me to move forward and become more involved in my community.

Would you recommend going on a reading week service trip?

Yeah! It was really fun! Not only did we get to help build a house and get to know the community, but I also got really close to the group of people I went with. I made a bunch of new friends during this trip. We all drove down from Guelph so we ended up spending a lot of time together. We developed very close relationships with each other after living in such close quarters for a week. When we weren’t helping build the house during the day, we got to do some really amazing things- I loved getting the chance to swim with manatees!

Now we’re all planning on doing Relay for Life together!

Where did you stay?

All 21 of us were put into a lovely three-bedroom house that was actually built by Habitat for Humanity. We slept on cots and there was about five people per room. The house that we stayed in had the same framework as the one that we were building so we knew what it was going to look like.

Will you be doing something like this again?

I would definitely like to! I’m pretty much willing to go anywhere, but the warm destinations are slightly more preferred. I really liked Florida and I’d love the chance to go back.