USF Sarasota-Manatee students have established a Habitat for Humanity Interest Group on campus.
Bryan Valentine, Director of Student Engagement at USFSM, introduced freshmen to the value of community service as part of their USFSM educational experience, and offered Habitat for Humanity as a class volunteer project of note. Last fall, some students chose to help build a house in Sarasota and then wrote a paper about their experience.
“The reason we want our students to give back through service is so they can learn the value of helping others and making a difference in the community while exploring new areas of interest and finding a purpose in life that is bigger than themselves,” Valentine said.
One of the freshmen students, Jennifer Caba, who participated in the fall community service project said, “I’ve been able to work with the future owner of the home that we are working on, and I can tell you that she is very grateful for what we are doing for her. Being a single mother with three kids can be hard and to know that our organization can make their lives easier and perhaps change them forever gives me a great feeling.”
The USFSM Habitat for Humanity Interest Group consists of an executive board of freshman students who have become devoted to the success of the nonprofit organization. This interest group includes Brittany Decker (president), Kaitlyn Daniel (vice president), Jennifer Caba (treasurer) and Michelle Berland (secretary). The group is partnering with Habitat for Humanity International and the Sarasota chapter as their affiliate sponsor.
“I plan on staying involved in this campus chapter throughout my four years of college here at USFSM,” Caba said. “And after graduation I will stay involved with the Sarasota Habitat for Humanity for as long as I can.”
USFSM is also promoting student involvement with All Children’s Hospital, Anti-Bullying Program, Tutoring in the Community, Adopt-a-Highway Cleanup on University Parkway, Flu Education and Vaccine Initiative, United Way, Sarasota/Manatee Heart Walk, Poverty Workshop, and Charity 5K-Selah Freedom.
“Community service allows our students the opportunity to meet new people, make new friends and establish community contacts,” adds Valentine. “They also develop and expand leadership skills, receive official verification of service hours for scholarships, awards, and job opportunities, fosters new attitudes and perceptions of our community and develops skills to improve career marketability after graduation.”
During spring break this coming March, eight students are planning to attend the 2014 Habitat for Humanity Alternative Spring Break Trip to Destin, Fla. Ashley Metelus, another student traveling to Destin for the March service project said, “When Bryan Valentine discussed what Habitat for Humanity was, I wanted to get involved and do something that I wasn’t talented at that would cause me to learn a new skill. I wanted to go on the spring break trip to give my time to something that helps people and get to know other USFSM students better.”