PROJECT CHILDREN IN PARTNERSHIP WITH HABITAT FOR HUMANITY 

Project Children has now built with the aid of interns over 30 houses as well as a homeless shelter in Helena. Project Children and Habitat for Humanity’s partnership has grown over the years and currently focuses on and reaches out to Tuscaloosa, Alabama.

HABITAT FOR HUMANITY 2014

Habitat for Humanity Tuscaloosa is a local affiliate of Habitat for Humanity International. Their mission is to rebuild Tuscaloosa by partnering with volunteers, donors, sponsors, and families to provide housing solutions and ongoing community development. They do this by building attractive, affordable, sustainable new homes for hardworking families, rehabbing and repairing existing homes in critical need, and serving as a catalyst for a wide range of community strategies that will transform lives and neighborhoods. 

 

Follow the progress of the relief work on the Habitat website:

 

 


http://www.habitattuscaloosa.org/ 

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A Letter From The Chairman

Project Children Chairman Denis Mulcahy reflects on his experience with the interns in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. 

"Project Children has helped to lay the foundation for peace in Northern Ireland and we hope that this foundation is instilled in the next generation, as they become the new leaders. The youth of today will be the leaders for tomorrow.  There have been so many wonderful people who have participated in the Habitat program, and this year was no exception.  The young adults worked together to achieve a common goal, and built friendships along with the house. For me as Chairman of Project Children, it was a great experience to have the opportunity to work with this incredible group of interns. The project was a huge success thanks to the hard work from all who took part.  Our coordinators in Northern Ireland, Monica Culbert, Sally Brennan, Maire Therese Griffen and Paul Lecky, who screen all the applicants, and choose the interns, did an exceptional job, preparing the interns prior to their trip.  The partnership between Project Children and Habitat for Humanity is a natural one. Both organizations know the value of finding common ground, working together and making good things happen. 

I would like to thank Habitat For Humanity- Tuscaloosa for organizing our trip to Tuscaloosa.  Also, the Volunteer Coordinator, Jared Patterson, Construction Director, Brandon Kasteler, and Site Supervisor, Peter Salemme, have been very supportive and helpful to us. They secured room and board at the Y’Acres Camp and we had an opportunity to work on the house of an Army veteran.  Ms. Jennifer Myles who served for 6 years in the American army with 3 deployments to Afghanistan throughout the week the interns had the opportunity to talk to Ms. Myles and listen to her story. A group of interns also helped with the “Women Build”. This is a house where the work is done by women volunteers and they have their own moto of “We’d rather build than clean it”.    

Special thanks again this year to the Kappa Alpha Order Fraternity of the University of Alabama for the welcoming party. This year we made a presentation of a plaque to the gentlemen of the Fraternity to thank them for their hospitality throughout the years. We also made a presentation of Belfast crystal to Bob Pugh, the Director of Risk Management at the University, for his generous hospitality throughout the years and organizing the tour of Bear Bryant Football Stadium and also making available to the interns the use of the water park to cool off and relax when the work was done. We would like to thank IBEW Local 136’s Business Manager, Jerry Keenum, along with his assistant, James “Pee Wee” Reece for the Southern home cooked meal of pulled pork and all the fixings, and caps for the interns. We also made a presentation to James “Pee Wee” Reece to thank the IBEW for their hospitality each year.


Last year we received a tour of the Federal court house in Tuscaloosa; here we got a chance to meet the Honourable L. Scott Coogler (Judge Coogler). This year Judge Coogler took two of our interns and hosted one of the interns while Daniel Maguire who works in administration at the University of Alabama and his wife Amanda took the other intern. I would also like to thank our supervisors, Sam Gormley, Brendan and Kyle Morgan, Pat Costello, Eugene McGillycuddy, and Pat and Gwen Kelly. Gwen Kelly organized wonderful meals to keep the crew well fed. I would also like to thank our donors and supporters who raise money for Project Children to fund the intern program, especially Joe Walsh and his family who run our annual golf tournament, Michael J. Miller Memorial Fund and the Sarah I. Schieffelin Residuary Trust.  Also, thanks to all our coordinators and volunteers, as well as our host families, without which none of this would be possible."


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Habitat, Humility and Humbleness

Andrew O'Doherty a student at the University of Ulster studying Architecture, interned at BHC Architects, New York City.

 

"We all boarded the flight heading from New York to Alabama, habitat for humanity was something none of us experienced, but had heard great stories from interns in the past. As we departed the flight into the air conditioned lobbies of Birmingham airport we didn’t realize the extent of the heat just yet. Greeted by faces of host families, and leaders such as Pat Kelly, we were shipped off to the Y acres camp just outside Tuscaloosa. Exiting the airport, the extreme heat and humidity hit us, the realization that in a few days we would be carrying out hard labor in this environment was scary, yet exciting.
 
From a weekend of gatherings, BBQs and the great hospitality of the southern people, we all started to understand why Alabama was such a ‘sweet home’. We spent the following week, in what they called mild heat, I know after two changes of t-shirts, to us this was more than mild. Early mornings being greeted by Gwen, painting, hammering and construction work helped us quiet 20 interns at the start to become lifelong friends who shared an experience of a life time. Habitat has all gave us humility and humbleness, and a sense that a group of people can give so much back on one week, but a lifetime of memories to take home.


Standing back at the airport in New York, the faces around us where no longer anxious, but full of tears, laughter and excitement for the next 6 weeks to come, as a group of friends working together for project children."

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Living Conditions - A Cabin In The Woods

Zita-Maria Buchanan a student at the University of Ulster studying Interior Design, interned at the Turning Stone Resort, Verona, New York.

 

"We arrived in YMCA Y’s Acres Camp in Tuscaloosa, Alabama on Saturday 21st June. However what I had imagined from a camp in America it did match my expectations to an extent. The best way to sum up the living conditions is “cabins in the woods.” 

The living conditions were basic but comfortable, clean and well air-conditioned and that was part of the excitement, challenge and experience. The main ‘living’ cabins known as the bedrooms with bunk beds were disconnected from the other living areas. There was the main ‘social’ cabin with picnic tables for the group gathering for meals, group talks and social activities. There were separate toilet and shower rooms that were a short distance away from the living cabins. The hot running water in the showers was a welcome and great asset after a hard days toil in the scorching humid temperatures of Alabama.

Although there were main living cabins there was other spaces outside for different activities such as a park, basketball nets and other sports space, a nature walk and a campfire for social gathering. A challenge we faced was no wifi and weak signal on our phones that was a great test of character to us as mobile phones are an integral part of our lives. The living conditions were different from home but basic and suffice in ensuring we were able to help out in building for Habitat."

 

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Kappa Alpha "Roll Tide"

Anna Fitzsimons a student at Queen's University Belfast studying Social Work, interned at the Aisling Center, Bronx, New York.


"Having settled in to our new surroundings at camp, we made our way down University Boulevard to attend a barbeque organized by Kappa Alpha, a local fraternity. Passing along the street with the fraternity and sorority houses we could not believe what we were seeing. The houses from the movies are actually real! With columns and sweeping staircases, the student homes are like mansions - a far cry from the flats or halls we would be used to at home. This was student life American style.

 

On arrival we were warmly greeted by members of the fraternity. After enjoying a delicious barbeque spread, we were able to talk to the students and find out more about the realities of living in a fraternity and studying in America. While (to their credit) none of the people we spoke to were as unruly as the frat boys in films, we got an insight into a completely different way of living and learning for people our age. Our main cultural learning from the evening however came in the form of the University of Alabama's football supporters' chant, repeated often throughout the week of Habitat for Humanity and probably far beyond: "Roll Tide"!"


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Our First Day In Alabama

Mairead O'Neill a student at University Collage Dublin studying Agricultural Science, interning with USG International

"Our first day in Alabama like every other day was very very hot and very very humid. We all woke early for breakfast and got to talk and get to know each other before we went down to the basketball court to shoot a few hoops. Although we tried we didn't last very long at the game before we were completely shattered. We made our way back to camp to the dining room which was our central meeting place. 

Here we gathered to hear a speaker from Habitat for Humanity who came and gave us a talk about what to expect from our week on the Habitat site. At around twelve Project Children volunteer Brendan came and explained our work at the site he talked about which home owners we would be working for and their stories. Then he gave us a quick debrief on each house. After this we headed to Walmart for few essential for the week before heading to a lake that was close to the camp." 


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How Surreal It Felt To Be In Alabama, USA!


Karen Strong a student at Bournemouth University, studying Advertising with Marketing Communications, interning at USG Performing Arts, NY.

 

"After Saturday’s long day of travel, Sunday was a relaxed day.  We stopped at a close by lake which was discovered by the interns the previous year. It had a great beach and all the interns got in for a quick swim. It was the first time all of us hung out as a big group so it was a lot of fun! After the swim we headed back to camp where Gwen Kelly had prepared us some chicken pasta and salad, which a couple of the interns had stayed back and helped with.

 

After the food, Peter who is the camps caretaker kindly asked if we wanted to watch the football at his house on site (The Lion’s Den). Some of the boys watched the USA v Portugal world cup game with him. Once everyone was fed and showered we spent the rest of the evening getting to know each other, finding out where we all came from and what we would be doing over the next few weeks spent in the US. We made use of the camps facilities in the main room and played some pool and ping pong. Later on some of us played a few card games. We got talking about the week ahead on the work site and how surreal it felt to be in Alabama, USA! It had been a long and exciting weekend so we all had a fairly early night to prepare ourselves for the busy week ahead on the work site!"

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The Habitat Site

Natale Cooke a student at the University of Ulster studying Marketing, interned at the Turning Stone Resort, Verona, New York.

 

"Upon arrival at the Habitat Site, we found ourselves at what was starting to look like a street. The Street donned many houses that were already complete, with families already moved in. There was a mix of construction at one end and small children playing and pets at the other end of what was, essentially, a building site, but they seemed to know to stay away from any ‘works in progress.’

 

There were three houses, all being worked on during the week, all of which were in the later stages of completion, left by other groups who ran out of time before we got there. Several lots with foundations already laid getting ready for the arrival of more groups. Aside from the three houses we would put together garden sheds at empty lots on which work was soon to be started.

 

Tools were kept in communal bunkers, with dumping skips placed strategically around the street. The final hour of each day was spent clearing away tools as the sites were not sealed off overnight – the front door of each house padlocked. I was pleased to see the attention to detail that was given to each site, with lawns and plants being fitted at the site I was at. This helped to transform the structure from merely a house, into a home. Giving us a sense of pride and achievement when we got finished."

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 Habitat Day 1: Alabama Heat

Cormac Lynch a student at Tralee Community College studying Hotel Catering & Tourism - Hospitality Studies, interned at The Waterstone Inn, Greenwood Lake, NY.


"Monday morning in Alabama and it was our first day on the Habitat site. We got up bright and early to get to the site by 7:30. We felt excited for the week ahead and started off with a 15 minute team talk where they explained all the safety regulations to us and our plans for the day. We started on a house that was almost complete, that a group the previous week didn’t get to complete. A few other interns went with me down the street and began working together to build a storage shed.  

We were given safety glasses gloves and instructions on how to build it. Peter, our Habitat team leader, had been working there for years knew exactly what he was doing so explained everything we needed to do. We started by building the floor, we cemented the 4 corners into 4 holes in the ground and then we started to on the walls. By lunch time we had finished the walls and took a very welcomed lunch break in the overwhelming heat. We headed back to Camp Y for some lunch.

We returned to the site and began to cover the walls of the shed with boards. We wanted to get the roof on before we had to finish up for the night and so one last big effort and as we started on the roof. By the end of the day we were finished the shed as we had set out to do. It was a great experience and I learned a lot from building these storage sheds. We had a good laugh and bonded with the other inters as a team. However the Alabama heat was just exhausting and too much for us." 

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 Getting To Know Each Other

Bronagh McCoy a student at Queen's University Belfast studying Computer Science, interned at the Kennedy Computer Consulting, New York.

 

"On Monday Evening after everyone's scorching first day of hard work we were lucky enough to be invited and taken to the Alabama University's Swimming pool to cool off. The outdoor swimming pool was so much fun, it had a basketball net, slide and lazy river that we all took full advantage of it while soaking up the sunshine. After a couple of hours we headed back to Camp Y for dinner. After showing the group met for dinner and thanks to Gwen and the interns who helped we enjoyed a lovely bit of lasagna!

With the rest of the evening to ourselves we decided to walk a trail right by the camp. We had a great time especially when it got dark, trying to make our way back with all the creepy bugs we found along the way. When we made it back to the camp, we spent the rest of night getting to know each other over a few games of table tennis before an early night to prepare for Habitat Day 2."

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    Habitat Day 2: Singing In The Heat

James Creaney a student at Queen's University Belfast studying Politics, Philosophy and Economics, interned at the office of Peter King, Congressman.

 

"Tuesday was our second day on the Habitat Site, as we headed back to the site to finish tasks we had been given the day before. Having learnt a few lessons from the previous day, with the help of the team leaders we were noticeably faster, even with the insane heat. As we finished up and were given new tasks, we had started to designate jobs efficiently as we had done towards the end of Day 1 on the site. We were really able to rattle through the task at hand. By lunch we had virtually finished all of the slats on the house I had been working on and began caulking. We had quickly realized caulking wasn't as rewarding as putting slats up – it required less teamwork and was an awful lot more awkward and took a longer time for what seemed like less progress. Even so we set a team goal to push ourselves and get it done by the end of the day.  

As we pushed ourselves to work faster in the Alabama heat, which made everything seem ten times more difficult to do we got all of the caulking done by the end of the day and even made a start towards cleaning the slats in preparation for painting to be done the next day. In terms of teamwork I can certainly say we were getting on great by this point, for a bunch of people that a week ago didn’t know each other, singing on scaffolding and before long giving each other friendly nick names."

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Southern Hospitality & Gratitude

Rory Breslin a student at Queens University Belfast, studying Computing and Information Technology, interned at MSA Security, IT, Manhattan.

 

"After the full day of working on site we all got back to the camp, and began the wind-down. We all started getting ready for the evening ahead, as we were all heading to a BBQ for the electrician committee “I.B.E.W” International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, that Phil was a part of. Phil was one of the coordinators for Project Children. He helped us out on the site with the construction of the house. He also helped make some of the sheds that were being used. He was an invaluable member of the team who always lifted our spirits. We all got our naps and showered before we drove out to the BBQ, it was only around a ten minute drive and we were there in no time.

 

At the BBQ Project Children presented a plaque to Phil and the electrician committee for all their hard work and contribution, for donating their time and effort over the years for Habitat for Humanity and for helping us throughout the week. After the short presentation, we got to experience some good Alabama pulled pork and got to speak to all the electricians and they’re experiences with the Habitat for Humanity community. It was a brilliant night, which was made by the efforts of the committee and their efforts into the BBQ. After we finished the BBQ we spent the night bonding as a group. We spent time with the Project Children chairman Denis Mulcahy and Habitat helper Kyle Morgan as it was their last night at camp. We had a great time and got to know each other a lot more as everyone was gathered round, talking and sharing stories, especially as we were split into different groups on the construction site. We thanked Denis for giving us all this opportunity and Kyle for helping us with the construction of the houses. We ended the night at Camp Y around the camp fire where we talked about our work at the site, and ourselves before our Project Children Internship Experience."

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Habitat Day 3: Another 6AM Start And Everything Starts to Come Together

Diarmuid O' Connor a student at the Limerick Institute of Technology, studying Civil Engineering Management, interned at JT Magen Construction & Co.

 

"Wednesday, we experienced yet again Alabama’s hot and humid weather-not something an Irish person was used to, which I am sure everyone has already mentioned. It was another 6.30 start, and as the week went on we got use to these early starts. We ate of breakfast and left the camp site to be at the working site for 7.30. As always it was an entertaining bus journey with Sam Gormly manning the ship. As the sweat poured down our faces and the music blasting around Tuscaloosa, a few of us finished off the siding for the house under the watchful eye of our spectacular boss Brendan Morgan, While another group started painting the house.

 

The whole project started to come together. The jokes and the banter were in full flow by lunch time, which helped us to enjoy the work more and distract ourselves from the heat-if that’s even possible! After lunch and a quick wardrobe change, we got straight back into the thick of it again. Working even harder and faster than before to get finished up in time to go visit the University of Alabama Football Stadium and learn about the history of the football team."

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 Habitat Day 3: Hard Work, Determination and Community Spirit

Fergal Power a student at the University of Ulster studying Management, interned at Michael Stapleton Asscociates.

 

"Along came mid-week during our stay in Tuscaloosa. All had become adjusted to the early morning starts and today was the day we were getting the chance to visit the 5th largest football stadium in the country. I was especially excited, being a big fan of the NFL, watching it every chance I get. Spirit was high in Camp Y all around as the football stadium was one of the first sights we seen on our trip from the airport to camp on day one. 


After a day on site we headed straight onto the stadium which is situated in the middle of town. Having claimed 15 national titles, Alabama are the third most successful football team in America. We got a guided tour of the stadium and were especially amazed to see the size of the changing rooms. The tour then went out on to the pitch where we got the chance to see the view of a stadium that holds over 100,000 people which was quite special. The tour was great to be on and would love one day to catch a game there.With over 80,000 students at the University of Alabama I can imagine game night is pretty special."


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Habitat Day 4: A Sense of Team Work 


 

Christina McCormick a student at Queen's University Belfast studying Business Economics, interned at The Irish Echo Newspaper, New York City.

 

"Thursday was another early morning for us at camp and at this point we were beginning to get used to 6am starts; we made our way to the busses as usual and morale was great in the group as it usually is early in the mornings. When we got on site we knew where we had to be and what we had to do. We were broken up into 3 groups some of us were on a “women’s build”, several of us on the main site at war veteran, Jennifer Miles’ house and the rest on other smaller projects.

Most of Thursday involved finishing touches, painting the house and carrying on from the work we had done the days previous. By lunch time the early mornings and later nights of Habitat Week were beginning to catch up with everyone and we were all more than ready for a quick lunch break and to be revitalized. We returned back to the camp for lunch and a short rest. But before long we were back on the busses with the group singing ‘Iggy Azaleas-Fancy’ which was always on the radio and quickly became our theme tune for our Habitat week in Alabama. It was a hot day and the work was intense, we had to push ourselves which in the end made it all the more rewarding! By day four the sense of team work was apparent as was the bond between our team!"

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A Week To Remember

Patrick O'Sullivan a student at the Limerick Institute of Technology studying Construction Management, interning at the MIH Systems Group.
 
"Thursday evening after a long day in the heat at the habitat site we all went out as a group for dinner. We left the camp around 6pm and drove across town to a restaurant Buffalo Phils. We had a room booked there, with two big tables so we could all sit together. We had lots of lovely food and it was nice sitting talking to each other and hearing each others stories. We stayed out until 10pm which was late for us, but there was a great atmosphere and they had a live local band that were fantastic. We then headed back to the YMCA camp.
 
When we got back to camp we sat around for a while telling stories and jokes. Brendan and Sam kept us entertained all week long, especially on the habitat site and around the camp fire. It was just a fantastic week from start to finish. Everything was organised for us. Everybody got to know each other and got on great. We made lots of new friends. The "craic" was brilliant. Definitely a week to remember. I would happily go back down to tusculasca again. Thanks for such a great opportunity!"

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Habitat Day 5: One In A Million Experience 

Samantha Kirkpatrick a student at South West College Omagh studying Engineering, interned at Calorique LLC.

 

"It was our final day at Habitat, Nancy the house coordinator had briefed the team the evening before that this was the final day to complete the house. Myself and four other Project Children Interns; Anna, Maireàd, Niamh and Natalie had formed a team on day 1. Where we were assigned the responsibility to complete a home for the Poe family. The home we had worked on was known as the Woman's build, where only a team of women had volunteered to build a home from the ground up. As we were present for the final week of the build we had the responsibility to add the finishing touches to the home.

 

On Day 5 our main priority was getting the garden perfect. We had laid the sods, scattered the grass seed and planted scrubs in the flower beds. We had bonded well as a team and developed, what I've heard described as "fast friendships" with each other and with AmeriCorps NCCC Girls (who supervised us during the week). As the garden eventually came together the feeling of accomplishment was overwhelming. The physical work was exhausting and adding the heat on top was tough but it was worth it to be part of an amazing cause that helps those in need.

 

At 2pm there was a dedication arranged where project Children presented a plaque to the home owners. Niamh and I worked that morning getting the plaque finished and signed by all the Interns. We finally got to meet the lovely lady Jennifer; Jennifer told us all her story and how her dream was to own her own home, Habitat for Humanity and the work we had contributed made this possible. Hearing Jennifer talk about her experience summed up the entire week and clarified how amazing our work was. I had a feeling within myself that I have never experience before and the gratitude the home owners showed was astounding.


My experience with habitat was one in a million and I will never forget the time I spent in Tuscaloosa or the people I have met."

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Sweat, Pulled Pork and "Roll Tide!"

Conal Smith a student at Queen's University Belfast studying Computer Science interned at the Full Circle Solutions Group, LLC.

 

"Friday night at habitat for humanity was a memorable experience for all of us. It was the night before we left Alabama and the final night we would spend in the YMCA camp. After the house blessing for Jennifer Myles' newly built house, we drove back to the camp for the evening. Gene McGillicuddy, Sam Gormley, Brendan Morgan, Pat and Gwen Kelly cooked up a delicious barbeque for everybody, with chicken, sausages, hamburgers and salads. Everybody was invited including the SSCC members of the Presbyterian Church who were working at Habitat along with the members from the union. We presented gifts to Gene, Sam, Brendan, Peter, Pat, Gwen and Joey as their dedication, kindness and willingness to take time out of their daily lives to help made the whole program possible!

We all had a great time playing table tennis, pool, meeting the other members, eating food, and relaxing by the camp fire with marshmallows on sticks. It was a really nice way to end an amazing habitat experience."

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 The People We Met In Alabama

Martin McCloskey a student at Queen's University studying Civil Engineering, interned at the City of Hamilton, Texas.

 

"Before we stepped on the plane to Alabama we met our leaders who would look after us for the week in Tuscaloosa. First there was Denis Mulcahy chairman of project children, then all our other chaperones for the week Brendan Morgan, Sam Gormley, Eugene Mc Gillycuddy and Pat Costello were there to make sure we worked hard and made those 6am starts as well as keeping us entertained. We met two more Project Children chaperones when we got there, Pat Kelly and Gwen were waiting with vans to take us from the airport to camp. A big thank you to all the Project Children chaperones for spending Gwen for coordinating the kitchen and giving us food every day.

 

On the Sunday we met the habitat leaders Jared Patterson, Brandon Kasteler and Peter Salemme who explained to us what we would be doing on site and who we would helping. On our first day we met our supervisors Joey and Nancy who throughout the week took the time to show us how to do each task properly. Most importantly we met one of the home owners Jennifer Myles. Her dream when she was 16 was to be a homeowner by the time she was 30 and now she is 28 has served two tours in Iraq and is soon to be a homeowner. As a group we felt privileged to work on her home and grateful to all the people we met along the way that volunteered their time to help us build these houses."

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Project Children Interns Give Back to War Veteran

Catherine Chew a student at the Belfast Metropolitan College studying Broadcast Journalism, interned at Galaxy Communications Syracuse, New York
 
"During our week in Alabama a group of us worked on a house belonging to a young woman called Jennifer Myles. Jennifer was a 28 year old war veteran who after serving 5 years in the army came back to the U.S homeless and suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome. We were fortunate enough to work alongside Jennifer during our week for habitat and she was kind enough to tell us her story. It was heartbreaking to hear but made all of our hard work feel worthwhile! Through habitat for humanity Jennifer was able to fulfil a lifelong dream of becoming a homeowner before she was 30, and to think that we played a part in making this happen for such a brilliant person is something I will never forget!"

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Getting to Meet The Most Interesting People

Andrew Hillan a student at the University of Ulster studying Law, interned with Judge Coogler at the 11th Circuit District Court, Tuscaloosa, Alabama.


"It seems like a very long time ago that we were travelling to the airport in Ireland, hardly knowing each other at all and having no idea what to expect, but something about the 6am starts, hard work and unusual living environment brought us all together very quickly. It wasn’t long before we felt like we had known each other for years, and I’m sure some of the friendships established will last for a lifetime.


As each day and night passed, the group just seemed to become closer and closer. Although we had to explain what the word ‘craic’ meant to some Americans, we had plenty of it. The conversations lasted long into the night, and there was plenty of laughter as we all shared jokes and stories.  There was a wide range of personalities in the group, but there was no friction at any stage, and our differences actually seemed to bring us together more. Everyone had their own qualities to bring to the group, and I can personally say I met some of the funniest, nicest and most interesting people in my life that week."


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 The Importance Of Charity Work and Giving Back

Niamh McEvoy a student at University of Ulster studying Law with Criminology, interned with Judge Coogler at the 11th Circuit District Court, Tuscaloosa, Alabama.

 

"A week in habitat is challenging and simply put was the hardest working week I have endured in my young years. Yet when I looks back on what we have achieved, and what it is building towards, I am overwhelmed not only with a sense of achievement but also of humblesness. The tiredness and hunger brought on by days of working in humid conditions under a blazing sun all melted away when you remembered what, and who, you were doing this for. The homeowners whose lives had been turned upside down by a vicious tornado that had ripped the city of Tuscaloosa in two. When you met them and heard their stories nothing mattered except the end result and knowing that you contributed to the projects that helped those individuals avoid homelessness.

 

Anyone can donate a penny to a charity box, but to donate your time and energy to a cause such as Habitat for Humanity is so much greater. The cause is extremely worthwhile as you get to see first hand what your effort is producing. One big lesson I have learnt from our week doing Habitat is how important charity work and giving back to a community is both morally and personally. Without doubt I hope to continue my volunteer efforts in the future and upon my return to Northern Ireland!"

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