Megan Belval Build Trip 2015

Going into this trip, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. On Monday, I had the honor of volunteering at the Habitat for Humanity Restore. Even though sorting through a 10 foot tall pile of linens is tedious, I made some new friends along the way. I met people who volunteer at the restore every day from 8:00am to 4:00pm, and who never stop smiling. One guy told me to ‘tell all the people up North that people in New Orleans are the nicest people you’ll ever meet,’ and he was right. Even though these people weren’t getting paid for what they did, they always put 110% into everything. Unfortunately, even with a few volunteers working every day, there is still an overflow of items that are donated, so extra volunteers are always great. Sometimes you just need more hands involved.

Tuesday was when I started at the build site. As soon as I was assigned my first task, I fell in love with this trip. There were three houses that my group was specifically working on this week. Each was in a different stage; one just started, one almost complete, and one in the middle. The best part was that I got to work on all three at one point. I learned how to insulate walls with caulk and foam, and how to paint a ceiling. The most shocking part of this trip to me was that I actually helped put up the walls on the frame of a house. It was amazing seeing this house going from just a frame to something that was almost ready to live in.

On Thursday, the homeowners of two of the houses came to visit. Although I didn’t have the chance to talk to them myself, I know they were ecstatic to move into these new homes, and I couldn’t be happier to help make their dreams come true. I learned on this trip that Habitat for Humanity isn’t just a handout. People that apply for these houses have taken home owner classes to care for their house, and they have put in a certain amount of hours into building Habitat houses.

Through this trip, I have met people who made it their life to build these houses for others. They are some of the kindest and most patient people I have ever met for mentoring us this week. I also have a new group of truly amazing friends who have never failed to make me smile and laugh. Lastly, I have pushed myself beyond my limits. Each day, I made a goal for myself, and each day I succeeded in that goal. I came into this trip interested in Habitat for Humanity, and now I am finishing this trip personally touched and inspired by Habitat for Humanity. I have learned to be very thankful for all I have, and to live what I think is a happy life, because in the end, that’s all that really matters.

Paul DePlacido Build Trip 2015

My name is Paul DePlacido, and I am a sophomore studying Mechanical Engineering at Worcester Polytechnic Institute. I joined Habitat for Humanity my sophomore year of High School, and I worked on building houses locally. I really enjoyed using my construction knowledge to help out the community. I also have met some of the best people while volunteering with this organization. During my freshman year of college, I was encouraged to look into joining a club on campus. I later found out that Habitat for Humanity was a club, and I immediately joined and wanted to get involved again.

Recently I was accepted and invited to participate in the Build Trip in Louisiana. I am glad I got the chance to help Louisiana especially after Hurricane Katrina. A decade after the destructive event, there was still wreckage and noticeable damage. I was very excited at the opportunity to travel to far away and help the community, and I did so with an unbelievable group of people. I bonded with all of them and I can now call them my friends. I learned so much about the city of New Orleans, Habitat for Humanity, the members of Build Trip group, and construction. Although I have done construction for many years prior, I learned so many more useful construction things, especially local precautions. I had an awesome time doing it and I was surrounded by a great group of people. I would do this trip over and over again if I had the chance, and I will definitely continue to be involved in Habitat for Humanity. I love being able to have a good time and supporting and helping a great cause.

Arianna Smith Build Trip 2015

Hello everyone!  I’m Arianna Smith, a sophomore chemical engineering student at WPI.  Going on my first ever build trip with Habitat for Humanity, I didn’t know exactly what to expect.  I didn’t know what to expect in terms of the New Orleans area and the damage that remained from hurricane Katrina, in terms of the conditions or stages of the houses that we would be working on, or in terms of what we would actually be working on or constructing in the houses.  Driving back from the airport on our first day there, I realized that there were still many destroyed houses lingering in the outskirts of New Orleans from Katrina ten years later.  I was very shocked to see that they still hadn’t been torn down.  When we went into the city on our second day there, I talked to a lot of locals and told them I was volunteering with Habitat for Humanity from Massachusetts.  Every single person that I talked to was so extremely thankful and grateful.  I have never felt like I was in such a tight-knit community as I had that day in New Orleans.  you could see how much our gestures truly meant to them.  When it was actually time for us to go to the build site, I say multiple different houses in all different stages of construction.  My little knowledge of construction and ability to accurately complete the tasks improved drastically over the course of our time there.  I learned so much from not only the Habitat for Humanity construction team, but mostly from my peers.  I was proud of myself for the knowledge, experience, and skills that I gained.  I was also prideful in myself for the assistance that my peers and I provided for a community.  It was great knowing that we weren’t giving a hand out, but a hand up to families and the community as a whole.  The entire experience was incredible, from the day we spent being tourists in the city, to the construction of homes, and from travelling with people I barely know, to creating a bond I never thought was possible to form in a week.  My first build trip was so unforgettable, I can’t wait for the next one!

Andrew Dunne Build Trip 2015

Hi my name is Andrew Dunne and I’m a sophomore at WPI who is majoring in mechanical engineering. In high school I really enjoyed doing community service, however my service was kept pretty local (coaching in town youth basketball teams, volunteering at the town’s senior center, etc.).  So coming to college I knew I wanted to continue to help others. But, as I was venturing out into the world with my college experience, I also wanted expand the scope of my volunteering as well.  That is how I came to find habitat for humanity as a wonderful club at WPI for myself to become a part of because I knew it was an international organization whose effects are felt worldwide. So far however, my habitat for humanity experience has been limited to helping out locally in Worcester and table sitting on campus during fundraising events. Therefore being on this trip has really been my first experience helping those outside of my community. I remember back in 2005 when Hurricane Katrina hit how news of the severe damage it caused spread nationwide. The pictures and videos of the aftermath were unfathomable at the time but a decade has past, and the stories have left the media, but you forget that the Louisiana locals still live with Katrina’s repercussions everyday. That didn’t hit me until we got off the plane in New Orleans and drove out to Slidell, passing by plentiful evidence of Katrina having come through and this region still trying to rebuild and recover 10 years later. Meeting the locals here in Slidell, in Mandeville, and on our first day in New Orleans and seeing how nice they are makes all this work that much more personal and it feels like we are doing some good and making a difference down here. Everyone has been very appreciative of us coming down to help and I hope it sparks the movement for people seeing us to lend a hand when they can. What I learned most from this trip is that habitat is all about helping out when you can for those less fortunate because every little bit helps. I hope that not only the families enjoy the houses we helped build, but also that we provided inspiration to others and opened their eyes to maybe helping in the future because every little does make a world of difference. The more people help the more change we can make, after all many hands make light work.

Sarah Martin Build Trip 2015

Hi everybody! This year was my very first build trip with Habitat and the only way I know how to describe this experience is life changing. Coming into this week I thought that we were simply going to build a house. This week showed me that I was VERY wrong!! Habitat does not just build houses for people, they build homes and bring hope. Habitat is an organization that gives people a hand up out of rough times and also ensures that they will be able to maintain themselves for the future. In the middle of the week, we were fortunate enough to be able to meet the women that would be living the in the houses that we were building. Seeing the excitement in their faces was priceless. You could tell by the way they said “this is going to be my house” with big smiles on their faces that they were filled with renewed hope for their futures. This week helped to foster my love for Habitat and I am now deeply invested in this organization. Habitat has impacted me in a way that nothing else can. It gave me the opportunity to give people not only a house, but a home and a future. I cannot wait to see where this organization takes me!!

Tim Biliouris NOLA Build Trip 2015

Hello everyone! Tim Biliouris here coming to you from New Orleans, Louisiana on the 2015 WPI build trip! Participating in my second build trip, I have learned even more about the importance of this organization. Habitat is amazing in how it unites the volunteers to build homes for people, especially here in New Orleans. I’m more than happy to put in a little elbow grease for those in need here and have some fun along the way! In my time volunteering for habitat, I have acquired many building techniques that I would not have otherwise known. Over the last couple days, I learned how to put up roof siding and helped paint the interior of a house! This trip is truly awesome and I hope more people get the chance to experience it. So put on your hard hats, throw on some gloves and get out there with Habitat for Humanity!!!!!!!

Chiana Montesi

Habitat for Humanity has been more than just a club for me, it has been an experience. An experience where I have learned to be selfless, a leader, and give a hand up not a handout. For 3 out of the past 4 years I have traveled down to New Orleans to help Habitat for Humanity Organizations. Not only do I strongly believe in the HFH mission, but I love learning the stories and backgrounds of the people we work with while we are down there. This year I am most excited about being able to continue my saga of working for Habitat and see newer members of this organization grow in front on my eyes. Each time I build with HFH I become more humble, and remember what it truly is to have a home. A home is where my family is, where there is love filled throughout the rooms, and where good food cooks. Home to me is where memories are, and where I feel safe to laugh, cry, and share my thoughts. This year I am more excited than ever to build a home for someone, and allow someone to have their own place where they can grow and make their own definition of what it really means to be home.