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 2016

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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.  We are hopeful that this foundation is implanted in the next generation, as they become the new leaders.  Our youth of today will become the leaders of tomorrow. 


There have been so many amazing people who have partaken in the Habitat for Humanity program.  This year has been no exception.  The young adults collaborated together to accomplish a common goal.  In addition to the houses built – friendships were also built along the way.  Research has shown that adults are twice as likely to volunteer if they began participating when they are young adults.  As the Chairman of Project Children, it was an incredible experience for me to have had the opportunity to work hand in hand with this wonderful group of interns.


The Habitat program was an incredible success thanks in part to the hard work of all of those involved.  Our coordinators in Northern Ireland – Monica Culbert, Sally Brennan, Maire Therese Griffen, Paul Lecky, Pat Mulcahy, and Ellen Lynch – who worked diligently to screen all the applicants and eventually choosing the interns.  They did an exceptional job this year in preparing the interns prior to their trip. The partnership between Project Children and Habitat for Humanity is a natural one.  Our organizations both know the value of finding common ground.  It was easy to work together and make good things happen. 


I would like to thank Habitat for Humanity – Tuscaloosa for organizing our trip to Tuscaloosa this summer.  Special thanks to Ellen Potts, Executive Director of Habitat for Humanity – Tuscaloosa, Jared Patterson, Volunteer Coordinator.  Also Peter Salemme, Construction Director and Barry Stough, Site Supervisor.  They were all very helpful and extremely supportive during our time in Tuscaloosa, especially in securing our room and board at Y’s Acres Camp. We worked on three houses during our time there.

This year was especially important for me personally for two reasons. The first being we were lucky enough to have Carol Wheeler, the Washington coordinator, and her son Max along with Marjorie Myers, wife of the late United States Consul General, Robert Myers. Robert served in Northern Ireland during the troubles and was instrumental in starting the Habitat Program. The second reason was my son, Denis and my two 16 year old granddaughters, Kaitlyn and Seana also volunteered their time for this Habitat project.  To be able to share this experience with them was incredible.  Although my family has always been instilled with the importance of service and volunteering, this was an experience that we got to share together.  It was a reminder of leading by example and passing down through generations, the importance of making meaningful changes in the community.  For that, I am eternally grateful to have had that opportunity with my own son and granddaughters.

 

I would also like to take the opportunity to thank our supervisors who taught the interns that there is nothing stronger than the heart of a volunteer.  My thanks to Sam Gormley, Brendan Morgan, Denis McAteer, Al DeBenedictis, Rich Hackford, Denis Mulcahy Jr,, Pat and Gwen Kelly, Pat Costello, and Tom Kinirons.  Special thanks to Gwen for always organizing delicious meals to keep the crew well fed!  On the New York side, we thank JoJo and Ray Gallagher for organizing all the interns to get together for a wonderful weekend in New York, where they get to share their summer experience before returning home.

 

I would also like to thank our supporters and donors, who raise the money for Project Children to fund this intern program.  A special thanks to the Walsh family, who run our annual golf tournament.  Also our major contributors from the Michael J Miller Memorial Fund and the Sarah I Schieffelin Residuary Trust.  We appreciate the contributions that we receive from the golf tournaments run by Gerry Robinson’s “Irish Open” in Massachusetts, Pat Costello in Utica, NY and Betty Walsh who is with the Walsh Foundation in Albany, NY.  Of course, none of this would be possible without thanking our coordinators and volunteers, as well as our host families. This year’s Project Children Interns learned, in the words of Helen Keller, that  ‘Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much’    



This year was especially important for me personally for two reasons.   The first being we were lucky enough to have Carol Wheeler, the Washington coordinator, and her son Max along with Marjorie Myers, wife of the late United States Consul General, Robert Myers. Robert served in Northern Ireland during the troubles and was instrumental in starting the Habitat Program. The second reason was my son, Denis and my two 16 year old granddaughters, Kaitlyn and Seana also volunteered their time for this Habitat project.  To be able to share this experience with them was incredible.  Although my family has always been instilled with the importance of service and volunteering, this was an experience that we got to share together.  It was a reminder of leading by example and passing down through generations, the importance of making meaningful changes in the community.  For that, I am eternally grateful to have had that opportunity with my own son and granddaughters.


I would also like to take the opportunity to thank our supervisors who taught the interns that there is nothing stronger than the heart of a volunteer.  My thanks to Sam Gormley, Brendan Morgan, Denis McAteer, Al DeBenedictis, Rich Hackford, Denis Mulcahy Jr,, Pat and Gwen Kelly, Pat Costello, and Tom Kinirons.  Special thanks to Gwen for always organizing delicious meals to keep the crew well fed!  On the New York side, we thank JoJo and Ray Gallagher for organizing all the interns to get together for a wonderful weekend in New York, where they get to share their summer experience before returning home.


I would also like to thank our supporters and donors, who raise the money for Project Children to fund this intern program.  A special thanks to the Walsh family, who run our annual golf tournament.  Also our major contributors from the Michael J Miller Memorial Fund and the Sarah I Schieffelin Residuary Trust.  We appreciate the contributions that we receive from the golf tournaments run by Gerry Robinson’s “Irish Open” in Massachusetts, Pat Costello in Utica, NY and Betty Walsh who is with the Walsh Foundation in Albany, NY.  Of course, none of this would be possible without thanking our coordinators and volunteers, as well as our host families. This year’s Project Children Interns learned, in the words of Helen Keller, that  ‘Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much’    



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Habitat, Humility and Humbleness

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Arriving at Camp & Our First Evening in Alabama

Amy Rice a University of Ulster Law with Criminology Graduate. Interning at Bubb Grogan and Cocca LLP New Jersey.


"On the day we arrived at the habitat camp we had to travel for several hours as well as catch connecting flights in order to reach our destination. We arrived absolutely worn out due to jet lag at mid afternoon. When we arrived we were greeted with a traditional campsite complete with playing fields and wooden cabins which we camped in. As soon as we arrived we collected our bags and made our way into our dorm, one of two cabins making up the boys and girls rooms, where we proceeded to pick which bunk we would be sleeping in for the next week as well as make our beds. 


After we got settled in we were called to the main room where Big D gave us an insight into what we would be doing over the course of the next week with regards to what exactly Habitat entails and we were introduced to some of the key people who would be working alongside us throughout the week. After that it was dinner time where Gwen served us a lovely meal to help us settle in after a grueling day travelling. Once we finished dinner we all went out to the basketball court and not long after that it was time for bed after a long day on the road."


Project Children has helped to lay the foundation for peace in Northern Ireland.  We are hopeful that this foundation is implanted in the next generation, as they become the new leaders.  Our youth of today will become the leaders of tomorrow. 

There have been so many amazing people who have partaken in the Habitat for Humanity program.  This year has been no exception.  The young adults collaborated together to accomplish a common goal.  In addition to the houses built – friendships were also built along the way.  Research has shown that adults are twice as likely to volunteer if they began participating when they are young adults.  As the Chairman of Project Children, it was an incredible experience for me to have had the opportunity to work hand in hand with this wonderful group of interns.

The Habitat program was an incredible success thanks in part to the hard work of all of those involved.  Our coordinators in Northern Ireland – Monica Culbert, Sally Brennan, Maire Therese Griffen, Paul Lecky, Pat Mulcahy, and Ellen Lynch – who worked diligently to screen all the applicants and eventually choosing the interns.  They did an exceptional job this year in preparing the interns prior to their trip.

The partnership between Project Children and Habitat for Humanity is a natural one.  Our organizations both know the value of finding common ground.  It was easy to work together and make good things happen. 

I would like to thank Habitat for Humanity – Tuscaloosa for organizing our trip to Tuscaloosa this summer.  Special thanks to Ellen Potts, Executive Director of Habitat for Humanity – Tuscaloosa, Jared Patterson, Volunteer Coordinator.  Also Peter Salemme, Construction Director and Barry Stough, Site Supervisor.  They were all very helpful and extremely supportive during our time in Tuscaloosa, especially in securing our room and board at Y’s Acres Camp.

We worked on three houses during our time there.

This year was especially important for me personally for two reasons.   The first being we were lucky enough to have Carol Wheeler, the Washington coordinator, and her son Max along with Marjorie Myers, wife of the late United States Consul General, Robert Myers. Robert served in Northern Ireland during the troubles and was instrumental in starting the Habitat Program. The second reason was my son, Denis and my two 16 year old granddaughters, Kaitlyn and Seana also volunteered their time for this Habitat project.  To be able to share this experience with them was incredible.  Although my family has always been instilled with the importance of service and volunteering, this was an experience that we got to share together.  It was a reminder of leading by example and passing down through generations, the importance of making meaningful changes in the community.  For that, I am eternally grateful to have had that opportunity with my own son and granddaughters.

I would also like to take the opportunity to thank our supervisors who taught the interns that there is nothing stronger than the heart of a volunteer.  My thanks to Sam Gormley, Brendan Morgan, Denis McAteer, Al DeBenedictis, Rich Hackford, Denis Mulcahy Jr,, Pat and Gwen Kelly, Pat Costello, and Tom Kinirons.  Special thanks to Gwen for always organizing delicious meals to keep the crew well fed!  On the New York side, we thank JoJo and Ray Gallagher for organizing all the interns to get together for a wonderful weekend in New York, where they get to share their summer experience before returning home.

I would also like to thank our supporters and donors, who raise the money for Project Children to fund this intern program.  A special thanks to the Walsh family, who run our annual golf tournament.  Also our major contributors from the Michael J Miller Memorial Fund and the Sarah I Schieffelin Residuary Trust.  We appreciate the contributions that we receive from the golf tournaments run by Gerry Robinson’s “Irish Open” in Massachusetts, Pat Costello in Utica, NY and Betty Walsh who is with the Walsh Foundation in Albany, NY.  Of course, none of this would be possible without thanking our coordinators and volunteers, as well as our host families.

This year’s Project Children Interns learned, in the words of Helen Keller, that  ‘Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much’    

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Intern Camp Experience

Meabh Ryan a Graduate from The National University of Ireland, studied History, Sociology and Politics, interned at Congressman Peter King’s office, Long Island.


After two flights and an hour car journey we finally arrived at camp in Alabama. Our home for the next week would be at the YMCA Y’s Acres Camp in Tuscaloosa AL, straight away it reminded me of one of those summer camps you’d see in a classic American movie, it had bunk beds, Boys and Girls dorms, Bathroom and Kitchen blocks all separated into little cabins. We all had different roles and chores to do in the camp whether you were on kitchen duty or lighting the camp fire everyone played their part. Many of us struggled adapting to the climate at first with the bugs, humidity and heat in particular being a real shock to the system but we adapted quickly. When we weren’t venturing out to Walmart the highlights of the evening included gathering around the camp fire, we even managed to get a guitar to add to the summer camp vibe. All in all it was an amazing experience, we all bonded and got on well with each other. I think every person that took part gained something unique from this experience and learned something new about themselves.

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An Alabama Sunday

Sharon O’Sullivan a Graduate from University College Cork, studied Commerce (international) with French, interned at Turning Stone Resort and Casino, Verona, New York.


On Sunday, our second day in Alabama, we woke up bright and early and went to church. Afterwards we took a trip to the supermarket to stock up on anything we needed for our week ahead, including food and clothes, and of course sun cream and bug spray. To cool down after our first full day in the Tuscaloosa sun and heat we headed down to a local beach on the Black Warrior River. Temperatures reached 100° during the week, so the lake proved to be a popular place for us to visit over the course of our stay. Even though it was only the second day of our trip, friendships were already developing, and it was clear that a close bond was going to form between us all before our week was up. This day was important in that it allowed us to get to know each other before the real work began on Monday, where working in a team would be a vital factor in our mission to be as productive as possible on site.

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Habitat for Humanity Site


Emma McAleer a student from Queens University Belfast, Studying Accounting, interned at Turning Stone Resort and Casino, Verona, New York.


Cruising in the two mini vans, 20 odd people embarked into the unknown, up to the Habitat Site. Two houses lay in our sites, one of which was almost finished apart from landscaping, sodding and some interior work to be completed. The other house needed a lot more work and scaffolding still surrounded it. Most of the boys in our group were shipped off, in the third minivan, to an empty site, where they had the task of building a house and shed from scratch. A daunting task awaited them, with little or no shade available from the blazing hot Alabama sun. Each house was equipped with every tool needed (apart from the ones at the empty site, who had to build their own). Soon enough, cutting saws, nail guns, saw horses, shovels and wheelbarrows scattered the area of house 2 and 3. However, once 3pm came, everyone assembled to gather up all tools used, as the sites were not secured overnight and only a padlock secured the front door of each house.


As the week went by, house 3 became complete; house 2 had some interior work and landscaping to be completed, and house 1, which is was an empty site, had a new garden shed and the framework of the house was complete. The week gave us a sense of achievement and we wished we could have stayed longer.

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Working in the Alabama Heat


Dara Kilcullen a student from Maynooth University studying Arts, interning at USG Performing Arts, Greenwood Lake, New York.


Early morning rises was tough to adapt to especially seeing as we were only getting used to the time difference. Being that I usually get up awfully early at home it wasn’t much of a struggle than it was for the others who looked like they were going to pass out while we sat for breakfast. After breakfast we all drove to the first site where we met the Mennonites and Peter Salemme who was the project leader. We then were shown how to be safe on the site and use all the power tools that we would be using correctly and safely. After the talk we all split up into our groups which were assigned to us at breakfast. Myself and five of the guys headed off to another part of town that was badly affected by the tornado along with two of our coordinators, Dennis and Brendan, who might I add were greatly entertaining throughout the week while working hard in that excruciating heat but helped us get through each day. Once we arrived to our site on the other side of town we were greeted by Ryan, who was doing community service and Barry the leader of our site. It was not my ideal Monday mornings but I felt greatly appreciative of where I was and what I could do to make a difference in someone else’s life. The beaming hot sun was tough to adapt to being that we are Irish and we don’t know what summer really is. Our site had only got the foundation laid so we knew we were in for one challenging week. 


We were very lucky to have Dennis and Brendan on our team because they knew everything when it came to constructing a house from the ground up. At the start we were slow to get our heads around it all because they were teaching us so much in a short little amount of time and it was a different language to us all. We eventually got stuck right in with using the power tools and getting started on the safe room and storage room. I quickly set myself a goal for the week which was to start and finish the storage room within the week period we had. Which kicked off to a great start since we had such great help from everyone. Since it was so hot we had to continuously hydrate ourselves with water that was left in the coolers for us and remember to continuously put sun cream. Not going to lie it was a tough challenge at the beginning to adopt to the weather change along with building a house which none of us had ever done before. Once we knew what to do we started using our own initiative and got right into building the frames for the house and storage shed.To conclude my feelings around the whole first day of habitat it was such eye opening experience and it really hit me how devastating natural disasters like what happened in Tuscaloosa, Alabama could have on family’s lives. If I ever get the chance again I would defiantly come to help habitat where ever they go. Great people to work with and for such an amazing cause.

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Habitat Day 2: House Dedication for Tony Humphies


Grace Rivers a student from University of Ulster studying Law, interning at The Supreme Court of the State of New York.


Today the twenty five interns spent the morning at a dedication day for Tony Humphies new home. The event aimed to celebrate the successful completion of the house through the dedicated team of volunteers working under the Habitat for Humanity programme. The morning started with a speech from Ellen Potts, the executive director of Habitat for Humanity of Tuscaloosa. During her speech, Project Children were singled out as a main contributor to the Habitat programme. Peter Salemme, the constructive supervisor of Habitat for Humanity Tuscaloosa and the site director, gave a special thank you to all the volunteers and donations given to the programme. Alongside this, Denis Mulcahy gave a very touching speech thanking the various contributions which have been given to allow Habitat for Humanity and Project Children to work as effectively as they have over previous years. The dedication ceremony was attended by Carol Wheeler, wife of Mr. Tom Wheeler, commissioner of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and Ms. Margery Myers, widow of Mr. Robert Myers, former US. Ambassador to Northern Ireland. 

The manager of the local Publix store also attended the event and was given special thanks for the donations which they have given to ensure the continued success of the Habitat programme. The Local television station attended the event and interviewed Denis Mulcahy and Tony Humphies on the contributions and success of Project Children within the Habitat programme. Volunteer Jenna Roger, was also presented with the coveted golden hammer award for her dedication to Habitat for Humanity by Ellen Woodward Potts. To conclude the ceremony, the preacher of the local church, which Tony Humphies is a member of, blessed the house and said a prayer for the volunteers and reinforced the message of kindness and the gift of giving. The dedication and the whole opportunity of working for habitat was a rememberable experience. The chance to work alongside a group to accomplish an aim of providing a home for a family has given us both a new positive outlook of life and reinforced the ideal of teamwork as vital when working towards a common aim. Ultimately, the dedication day provided the backdrop and motivation for the teams’ hard work and with that, provided us with skills which will benefit us throughout our internships.


7. Tuesday, habitat day 2 – working on site – house dedication                                                  Grace Rivers a student from University of Ulster studying Law, interning at The Supreme Courof the State of New York.

Today the twenty five interns spent the morning at a dedication day for Tony Humphies new home. The event aimed to celebrate the successful completion of the house through the dedicated team of volunteers working under the Habitat for Humanity programme. The morning started with a speech from Ellen Potts, the executive director of Habitat for Humanity of Tuscaloosa. During her speech, Project Children were singled out as a main contributor to the Habitat programme. Peter Salemme, the constructive supervisor of Habitat for Humanity Tuscaloosa and the site director, gave a special thank you to all the volunteers and donations given to the programme. Alongside this, Denis Mulcahy gave a very touching speech thanking the various contributions which have been given to allow Habitat for Humanity and Project Children to work as effectively as they have over previous years. The dedication ceremony was attended by Carol Wheeler, wife of Mr. Tom Wheeler, commissioner of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and Ms. Margery Myers, widow of Mr. Robert Myers, former US. Ambassador to Northern Ireland. The manager of the local Publix store also attended the event and was given special thanks for the donations which they have given to ensure the continued success of the Habitat programme. The Local television station attended the event and interviewed Denis Mulcahy and Tony Humphies on the contributions and success of Project Children within the Habitat programme. Volunteer Jenna Roger, was also presented with the coveted golden hammer award for her dedication to Habitat for Humanity by Ellen Woodward Potts. To conclude the ceremony, the preacher of the local church, which Tony Humphies is a member of, blessed the house and said a prayer for the volunteers and reinforced the message of kindness and the gift of giving. The dedication and the whole opportunity of working for habitat was a rememberable experience. The chance to work alongside a group to accomplish an aim of providing a home for a family has given us both a new positive outlook of life and reinforced the ideal of teamwork as vital when working towards a common aim. Ultimately, the dedication day provided the backdrop and motivation for the teams’ hard work and with that, provided us with skills which will benefit us throughout our internships.


 


7. Tuesday, habitat day 2 – working on site – house dedication                                                  Grace Rivers a student from University of Ulster studying Law, interning at The Supreme Courof the State of New York.

Today the twenty five interns spent the morning at a dedication day for Tony Humphies new home. The event aimed to celebrate the successful completion of the house through the dedicated team of volunteers working under the Habitat for Humanity programme. The morning started with a speech from Ellen Potts, the executive director of Habitat for Humanity of Tuscaloosa. During her speech, Project Children were singled out as a main contributor to the Habitat programme. Peter Salemme, the constructive supervisor of Habitat for Humanity Tuscaloosa and the site director, gave a special thank you to all the volunteers and donations given to the programme. Alongside this, Denis Mulcahy gave a very touching speech thanking the various contributions which have been given to allow Habitat for Humanity and Project Children to work as effectively as they have over previous years. The dedication ceremony was attended by Carol Wheeler, wife of Mr. Tom Wheeler, commissioner of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and Ms. Margery Myers, widow of Mr. Robert Myers, former US. Ambassador to Northern Ireland. The manager of the local Publix store also attended the event and was given special thanks for the donations which they have given to ensure the continued success of the Habitat programme. The Local television station attended the event and interviewed Denis Mulcahy and Tony Humphies on the contributions and success of Project Children within the Habitat programme. Volunteer Jenna Roger, was also presented with the coveted golden hammer award for her dedication to Habitat for Humanity by Ellen Woodward Potts. To conclude the ceremony, the preacher of the local church, which Tony Humphies is a member of, blessed the house and said a prayer for the volunteers and reinforced the message of kindness and the gift of giving. The dedication and the whole opportunity of working for habitat was a rememberable experience. The chance to work alongside a group to accomplish an aim of providing a home for a family has given us both a new positive outlook of life and reinforced the ideal of teamwork as vital when working towards a common aim. Ultimately, the dedication day provided the backdrop and motivation for the teams’ hard work and with that, provided us with skills which will benefit us throughout our internships.


7. Tuesday, habitat day 2 – working on site – house dedication                                                  Grace Rivers a student from University of Ulster studying Law, interning at The Supreme Court of the State of New York.

Today the twenty five interns spent the morning at a dedication day for Tony Humphies new home. The event aimed to celebrate the successful completion of the house through the dedicated team of volunteers working under the Habitat for Humanity programme. The morning started with a speech from Ellen Potts, the executive director of Habitat for Humanity of Tuscaloosa. During her speech, Project Children were singled out as a main contributor to the Habitat programme. Peter Salemme, the constructive supervisor of Habitat for Humanity Tuscaloosa and the site director, gave a special thank you to all the volunteers and donations given to the programme. Alongside this, Denis Mulcahy gave a very touching speech thanking the various contributions which have been given to allow Habitat for Humanity and Project Children to work as effectively as they have over previous years. The dedication ceremony was attended by Carol Wheeler, wife of Mr. Tom Wheeler, commissioner of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and Ms. Margery Myers, widow of Mr. Robert Myers, former US. Ambassador to Northern Ireland. The manager of the local Publix store also attended the event and was given special thanks for the donations which they have given to ensure the continued success of the Habitat programme. The Local television station attended the event and interviewed Denis Mulcahy and Tony Humphies on the contributions and success of Project Children within the Habitat programme. Volunteer Jenna Roger, was also presented with the coveted golden hammer award for her dedication to Habitat for Humanity by Ellen Woodward Potts. To conclude the ceremony, the preacher of the local church, which Tony Humphies is a member of, blessed the house and said a prayer for the volunteers and reinforced the message of kindness and the gift of giving. The dedication and the whole opportunity of working for habitat was a rememberable experience. The chance to work alongside a group to accomplish an aim of providing a home for a family has given us both a new positive outlook of life and reinforced the ideal of teamwork as vital when working towards a common aim. Ultimately, the dedication day provided the backdrop and motivation for the teams’ hard work and with that, provided us with skills which will benefit us throughout our internships.

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Tuesday Night


Saoirse McKinney student at St Mary’s University College, Belfast, studying Primary Education, interned at The Aisling Irish Cultural Centre, The Bronx, New York.

After our second day working hard on site, we were treated to a trip to the Alabama University swimming pool to cool down from the ever increasing temperature in Tuscaloosa. We were able to relax floating in the flume pool, whilst others began a competitive match of our new favourite game- ‘keepie uppies!’ Of course, there were plenty of group photo opportunities posing under the beaming sun. After building up an appetite, we headed back to camp to more of Gwen’s lovely dinners. Then, it was that time again to start building the campfire. Tonight, however, we were in for another treat. As there are many talented musicians in our group, it was decided early on in the week that a guitar was a must for a few sing songs around the fire. The music session was the perfect end to our halfway point of the week in Tuscaloosa. We could have listened to the music all night, only for a broken guitar string and knowing that a 6am start the next morning wouldn’t be long coming around.

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Habitat Build Day 3: The Simplicity of Everything


Matt Crowe student at , interned at BHC Architects Manhattan.


On the third day of habitat we had settled in well and people started to become more themselves around each other. This is when the group really bonded and even though the work was tiring, we had a laugh doing it. It was very rewarding as the house began to take shape, and we all felt an element of pride in our work. I really enjoyed the simplicity of everything. Working all day, eating our meals, swimming and sitting around the campfire together. Without any mobile phones or luxuries of modern life as a distraction we became closer far quicker and already I was dreading the end of the week. We went to the swimming pool that evening to relax after the day's work. I had a great time and appreciated the swim and the water far more having spent all day on scaffolding cutting the siding. Doing architecture in university, I really enjoyed actually getting to building something. The whole week was an entirely unforgettable experience, which has led to friendships that would never have come into being back home.

 

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Running Out Of Clean Clothes


Cormac Quinn a student at Queen’s University Belfast, studying Computer Science, interned at MSA Security, Manhattan, New York.

On Wednesday evening, we got back to the camp at around 3.30pm after a hard day’s work. Rumours had become a big thing during the week, and the latest one going around was that we were going to a Laundromat after dinner. Later in the week the rumours got a bit out of hand though, including my favourite, “We’re getting a NYPD escort to the airport… in Alabama” but at least this one was believable. Everyone was running out of clean old clothes for the site, so doing laundry was becoming a real necessity. During dinner it was confirmed that we would be going to get our washing done but before that we would be getting an aerial shot taken of us from a professional photographer, Cesar Salad, using his drone. Doing laundry was a great laugh, especially since half of our clothes came out still looking dirty… although they smelt fresh so we dried them off and headed to Walmart for some WiFi and shopping.

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Habitat Day 4: A Rewarding Experience


Megan McGlinchey a student at Queen’s University Belfast, studying Psychology, interned at Employment Horizons, New Jersey.


This was the fourth day into the week and we were up early at 6am like every other day when working in Alabama. However this day was more difficult because of working in the sun and humid air in the previous days of work and I feel like this is when it had caught up on me, so I felt extremely drained of energy. It was quite overcast that morning and a bit cloudy which we preferred as it was a better condition for working in, although later in the afternoon it became to feel like one of the hottest and most humid day yet. My main job this day was working on construction, I continued to build the fences that I was working on from the previous day. This then would eventually be attached to the front porch of one of the houses on our site. It included measuring and sawing the wood and also drilling the screws combining the pieces of wood together. I learned a lot by doing this as it is important to know health and safety precautions when using electrical equipment. It was also fun being able to use a saw and a drill because it was a new experience for me. This was the second last day before finishing our time in habitat so at this stage we were beginning to see one of the houses coming to the final stage of being completed. It was a very rewarding experience especially getting the opportunity to work alongside the people who would be living in the house.

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Bear Brynt Stadium


David Long student at Queen’s University Belfast, studying Maths and Finance, interned at Pinnacle Investments LLC, Syracuse New York.


On Thursday evening, after a tough days work during the hottest day of our week so far, we got the privilege of being taken on a tour of the University of Alabama’s American Football stadium. I don’t know about the others but for me personally this was a great experience as I am very enthusiastic about sport and I have never been to one of these stadiums before. The tour did not disappoint as we got access to all areas of the stadium from the stands, the pitch side area, the private areas for the rich people to the home and away changing rooms – which is funnily known as “The Fail Room”. I’m glad I got the opportunity to visit an American Football stadium as the  sport is such a big part of the lifestyle in America.

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Habitat Day 5: Low Energy and High Emotions


Christina Cousins student at Queen’s University Belfast, studying Biomedical Science, interned at Employment Horizons New Jersey.


On our final day working with Habitat for Humanity Tuscaloosa, emotions were running high and energy levels were running low. Knowing it would be our last day together working as a group made everyone work that little bit harder as we really wanted to enjoy our day and leave knowing that we had made an impact on the lives of all the families awaiting the houses. Final touches to the first house had been completed the previous day and so all bodies were focusing on the second and third houses. A team of around 5 of us set out to finish the painting of the external of house 2, while others cut skirting boards and window boxes, installed bathroom rails and kitchen cabinets and even assembled and painted the outer house railings. The team at house 3 were continuing in their efforts to build the backyard shed and finish the framework for the house.


After lunch, our coordinator Peter surprised us all with some typical American ‘Snow Cones’ which we were so incredibly grateful for as the heat was very intense that day! It was a welcome break and we felt very lucky to have been treated for all our hard work throughout the week. By the end of the day, everyone was absolutely shattered but in such high spirits as we had finally completed our work for the week and we felt so proud of ourselves! Plus, there was a promise of a visit to the lake afterwards which always put everyone in good spirits; and so everyone gathered their stuff, said goodbye to Peter and the team, took a few pictures and headed on our way!

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The Feeling of Accomplishment


James Kane a student from Queen’s University Belfast, studying Finance, interned at MSA Security Long Island, New York. 


Working for Habit for Humanity was one of the most demanding yet rewarding weeks of my life. When we arrived on the site on the first day we were a little bit daunted due to the fact that we would be starting the house from scratch. Along with some other Habit Volunteers, we began working and we soon started to see the foundations of the house come together. Working in 30 degree heat doesn’t sound to appealing at first, but the group was a lot of fun and the days seemed to fly in. 


Our supervisors Denis and Brendan were always telling jokes and having a laugh with us so the site was an enjoyable place to work. Over the course of the week the group carried out many different jobs on the house. Some of us made the shed, others helped build the safe room and the rest helped construct the walls for the house. During the coming days we started to see the house coming together so by the end of the week we had the walls, safe room and shed all built. We all had a feeling of accomplishment knowing that we had started a house which would eventually be given to someone who needs it. It really is a once in a life time chance and it was a week that I will never forget so I would encourage everyone to go for the experience!

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Working on House Number 2


Maria McCory a student from Queen’s University Belfast, studying Finance, interned at Voxx International, Long Island, New York.


Prior to our arrival at the habitat construction site we had been split into 3 groups to work on 3 different houses; one which was almost complete, another which was half complete and the last which was little more than a slab of concrete. My group was working on house number two – the house which was about half finished. Each day we divided into smaller sub groups and worked tirelessly in the heat to complete the tasks assigned to us. Throughout the course of the week we built the front porch, laid the wooden floor in the living room, grouted the bathroom tiles, fitted the doors into their frames, fitted skirting boards, built the boxes and frames for the windows and installed the kitchen cabinets. We also improved the aesthetic of the house by caulking and painting all of the wood that we used. In completing these jobs we learnt to use many tools that we had never before had the chance to use such as drills, nail guns and various types of saws.


The difference we made to the house during the week that we were there was tremendous and we were all so happy and proud that we managed to achieve so much. Despite not getting the opportunity to meet the Kitrell family who will later move into the house, we still felt extremely fortunate to have had the chance to help them. We all gained so much from this experience so it was nice to know that we were helping someone else in the process and that we were able to give back in some way.

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Building a house for Shonda and her Family


Meabh McManus graduate from Queen’s University Belfast, studied Law, interned at NJFMBA, New Jersey.


Shonda was a quiet, reserved woman. I learnt the most about this woman from the house we built for her. Her little blue house was a beacon of her future, the result of her present hard work and a memorial for her difficult past. I gathered information about her from the decisions she had made to make this habitat house, a home. The owners of the habitat homes do not have much input into materials or layout, which is the work and design of Mr. Peter Salemne and his talented team. However, I found a simple contract stapled to the back of the habitat sign, and along the dotted line Shonda’s bold script filled in her preferences of her dream home. It may not have been integral to the architecture, or the core of the foundations, but they were the things that mattered. Strong, oak counters for her kitchen; a long-lasting, stable material- to last for all the Christmas dinners she would prepare there, all the mornings when the kids would spill their cereal or perhaps it was the inviting odour of oak which was to greet and welcome any of her guests. Then, neutral interior walls, which was significant because it was a blank canvas, a fresh start. 


Shonda could decorate how she pleased; she could hang photos on the wall, hang beautiful bright curtains, and imprint her own personality in every room. Finally, the exterior color she chose was blue. A dark, sapphire, blue which contrasted with the bright blue of the Alabama sky. Although, from a far the navy blue matched perfectly with the luscious, green grass we rolled out on her front lawn, like a satellite image of the globe; this was her new world. Shonda worked tirelessly to complete her sweat equity hours from 8am to 6pm, then saw her children for dinner and then worked the night shift at Alabama psychiatric hospital. She would return from work at 6am and get straight to the housing site. She is an admiral woman who is only doing her best to provide a future for her, and her children. Habitat for humanity gave her that opportunity and I’m sure she will be eternally grateful.

 

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The Project Children Coordinators

Mark Mc Teggart- student at Queen’s University Belfast, studying Law with Politics, interned at Sullivan Superior Court, Long Island.


Throughout our time in Alabama, an ethos of teamwork and camaraderie were vital aspects in ensuring spirts remained high within the group. Primarily, this ideal was showcased by the Project Children Co-Ordinators who accompanied us on our trip. From our arrival into JFK and onto Birmingham, we were greeted with a group of people who were willing to make our time enjoyable but also committed to ensuring our aim to complete the building of three houses within a week was accomplished. Accordingly, the group was both vitalized and buoyed by the huge effort put in by the coordinators and the helpful hand they were always willing to give. Their willingness to get involved and direct much of the construction work alongside site manager Peter Salemme kept us motivated and drove the team forward in the scorching heat. 


Much credit for Habitats success lies solely on the shoulders of the whole team, (Denis, Al, Pat, Gwen, Joanne, Cousin Denis, Denis Jr, Richie, Brendan, Sam, Eoin) and their ability to make us both appreciate and enjoy our time in this new terrain. Living with the bare necessities allowed us to fully acknowledge the work put in by the whole coordinating team and the preparation needed to provide us with food and opportunities to visit the lake, shop and Football stadium. The volunteers provided the backdrop to an ultimately successful trip and the "craic" provided by them throughout the week made Habitat a truly memorable experience which I would do again in an instant!

 

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Together We Pushed Each Other

Samantha Gault student at Liverpool Hope University, studying Psychology, interned at United Way of the Valley and Greater Utica area and Limelight Event Company.


Building houses sounded like an 'ok' way to start our trip off in the U.S.A.. It sounded a lot like hammering a nail here and there.. Some cleaning and a few hours work to help someone in need. Little did I know that arriving in Tuscaloosa would change my life forever, it would force me to bond with people I would otherwise never have had the chance too and it made me realise we are all capable of anything if we just put our mind to it. As the alarm went off at 6am Monday morning.. After two days of some chilled, laid back fun we all weren't entirely sure what to expect. We had some breakfast and all loaded on to the vans. We arrived at 22nd street and there we had our first team meeting, somehow it had only been 48 hours but already we felt like a team. One house had scaffolding.. The other? Well the garden just looked like the Mourne Mountains. Peter introduced some people and talked about the week ahead and the challenges we would face. We then split into 3 teams and the real work began. Each house had a plan for the day.. And each person had a job. Day 1 and spirits were high, everyone was working hard determined to beat the heat. 


All sorts of jobs were happening, from cleaning right through to building from the foundations up. It was a great day ending with fun at the lake! As the days went on, the temperature got warmer and the humidity escalated. Much to my surprise no one complaint about how hard the work was becoming, instead we focused on fun things, we sang and we danced our way through the long days. In the evenings we got to do fun stuff which gave that extra push for us to work harder on the last hour of each day. For me day 4 was my biggest mental struggle, the humidity soared and the work that lay before me seemed impossible, but then i took a step back i looked at all that we had already done and my emotions began to run high. I began to feel proud of not only myself but every single person on Project Children, together we had done something that would change someone's life, we had worked so hard all week and now things were finally coming together and five of what seemed the longest days would ironically begin to feel like the shortest of our life. Together we pushed each other and we completed not only Thursday but the entire week. The only word i can use to describe this experience is Invaluable. I not only got to meet some amazing people, i got the chance to give back to America with every single one of them by my side. 8 days previous to this trip i didn't know a single person; 8 days later parting from them brought me to tears. Would I do it all again? Absolutely!


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The Experience of a Lifetime


Aisling O’Doherty Student at University of Limerick, studying Business, majoring in Marketing, interned at The Waterstone Inn, Greenwood Lake, New York.


I’m not alone when I say that I was nervous coming to America on my own and not knowing anybody did somewhat scare me. Little did we know how quick it would be before we could call each other family! We all met at Newark airport on the Saturday and by Sunday evening we had all bonded and were singing songs and eating s’mores by the camp fire! We got close quite early in the week which made us all quite happy! Once we arrived at the YMCA camp no one had Wi-Fi and very few people had service on their phones! This is a huge reason why we all bonded so quick, we chatted about everything and anything, we are so happy our phones didn’t work, we didn’t need them! It was great. 


On site in Tuscaloosa with Habitat we worked smoothly as a group together! Our week was a productive one we all helped each other and grew together, even though it may have been up in the late 90 degrees that didn’t stop us from having a laugh together from 6am until we went to bed! In the evenings we got the chance to go to the lake and the pool together where some great times were had! We really do feel like a family, because of this program we got the chance to meet people we never would’ve met before and it happened over 6,000km across the water. It was great getting the opportunity to do something exhilarating with habitat and at the same time bond with such amazing people an experience of a lifetime! We cannot wait until we met again soon.

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Building Friendships 

Gerard Finnegan student at University of Ulster, studying Business Studies, Interned at International Minute Press, Plymouth, Michigan.


What I gathered from the people I was associated with in my time in Alabama is that there is a culture of helping others, this is especially directed at the people involved in the organization of Habitat for Humanity and Project Children. During my time in Alabama I was lucky enough to be present at a time when Habitat for Humanity awarded a finished home to a member of the community. This member of the community also spent time working for Habitat for Humanity on a home for someone else. The hospitality we received in Alabama was excellent and our camp site was a lot of fun. Standing in the airport at the end of our time in Alabama presented everyone with a range of emotions. On one hand we were excited to begin the new stage of our internship, on the other hand, sad to be leaving everyone.The weather in Alabama, at times was extreme. Walking around in 38 degree heat is one thing, but working on a building site is a completely different ball game. The site that I was part of in the first week was in its infancy and therefore had little shelter from the heat. Myself and the rest of the team worked on building the exterior/ interior walls along with a storage unit and a safe room for future tornadoes. I think on average I consumed around 13 bottles of water while working each day. However, the weather helped make the experience as amazing and unique as it was. The working conditions in Alabama were definitely the biggest difference I noticed from back home. In summary Habitat for Humanity was the perfect way to start the summer internship, in doing so building friendships and connections for a lifetime.

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Working on 3 Separate Houses


Caolin Grant a Graduate from University of Ulster, studied Law, interned at Bruno, Gerbino and Soriano Law office, New Jersey.


The first week of project children we worked in the area of Tuscaloosa that we were working in had been damaged by tornadoes a few years prior so the group was split up and we worked on three separate building sites. The weather in Alabama was not what we were used to back in Ireland with temperatures reaching over 100 degrees Fahrenheit. The extreme heat made working conditions very tough and so we had to be cautious about the risk of sunburn, sunstroke and dehydration. Despite these challenges the group really pulled together to complete a vast amount of work in such a short period of time. This was only possible thanks to all the wonderful help and support we got from the Project Children Coordinators and the other Habit staff and volunteers. By the end of the week we had all formed very close bonds and everyone looked out for one another and were eager to help in any way they could. Despite the heat and the demanding work it was a most rewarding experience and one I shall never forget.

 

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BBQ's, Camp Fires and Sing Alongs


Cliona Mc Farline student at University of Ulster, studying Occupational Therapy, interned at Department of Person with Disabilities, New Jersey.


Full of excitement and nerves, we boarded the flight to Alabama to participate in Habitat of Humanity! Greeted by Denis and the coordinators, we began our journey to the Y Acres camp in Tuscaloosa. Sam, Meabh and I were picked up by "our Dan", proudly wearing his GAA top, entertaining us with stories, music and perfecting Meabh's southern accent. It wasn't until we got to camp that we noticed the heat and humanity but it didn't stop us from exploring our new home. BBQs, campfires, sing alongs, outdoor pool and evenings at the river, it wasn't long for the laughter to start, jokes to be said and memories to be made!  Long days building a home for someone gave us dedication, patience and the ability to work as a team to reach a common goal!  By the end we felt tired but proud of what we achieved together which made it hard to say goodbye. As we departed each other at the airport, there were tears, hugs and excitement as we said goodbye and good luck for the amazing adventure we were about to take on!

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To Change a Life for the Better


Peter Kidd Graduate of Queen’s University Belfast, studied Law, interned at Michael Arcuri’s Law office, Utica New York and DA’s office, Madison County.


After a hectic couple of flights and a few bus journeys thrown in, we arrived in sunny Alabama. Pulling in to a remote cabin area far far from civilisation (and wifi), I noticed a few worried faces as stories were told of spiders, snakes and all kinds of creatures. The experience every night at the camp was unbelievable with guitar playing by the campfire as we'd prepare for an early start to on site to cover ourselves in factor 50 sunblock! Personally adding to the house to change someone's life for the better and trying my hand at what I called "expert carpentry" was a great experience! And to do it along side what were complete strangers a few days ago which are now good friends!


I am very thankful to Project Children and Habitat for Humanity for allowing me to have this experience as it was one of the best weeks of my life.

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An Exciting Yet Humbling Habitat Week


Róisín Murray a student at University College Dublin, studying Business and Law, Interned at Biddy Murphy Irish Gifts, Michigan.


Our week spent in Tuscaloosa was an exciting, yet humbling experience. As a group, we did a lot of building; both houses and friendships. The combination of manual labour and excruciating heat, made the week a challenging, yet extremely rewarding one. The sense of camaraderie developed throughout the week, both on site and around the campfire, is one that could not be experienced in any other situation, and I feel blessed and honoured to have had the opportunity to meet such a great group of people. I learnt a lot from my Habitat adventure, particularly with regards to teamwork and the ethos of getting back what you put in! I think we also surprised ourselves in how capable we all were of completing the different stages of building a house, and how proficient we were at using the tools by the end of the week! (Well in most cases). I was extremely sad that the week was over, I had great craic and met loads of new, great people, coordinators, other interns and volunteers alike. It is an experience I will cherish forever, and hope to do more Habitat for Humanity projects in the future!


8. Tuesday Night                                                                                                                                               Saoirse McKinney student at St Mary’s University College, Belfast, studying Primary Education, interned at The Aisling Irish Cultural Centre, The Bronx, New York.

After our second day working hard on site, we were treated to a trip to the Alabama University swimming pool to cool down from the ever increasing temperature in Tuscaloosa. We were able to relax floating in the flume pool, whilst others began a competitive match of our new favourite game- ‘keepie uppies!’ Of course, there were plenty of group photo opportunities posing under the beaming sun. After building up an appetite, we headed back to camp to more of Gwen’s lovely dinners. Then, it was that time again to start building the campfire. Tonight, however, we were in for another treat. As there are many talented musicians in our group, it was decided early on in the week that a guitar was a must for a few sing songs around the fire. The music session was the perfect end to our halfway point of the week in Tuscaloosa. We could have listened to the music all night, only for a broken guitar string and know that a 6am start the next morning wouldn’t be long coming around.

 

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Only A Life Lived for Others, Is a Life Worthwhile


Seana Morgan, a High School Student and Project Children Volunteer, Greenwood Lake New York. 

Albert Einstein once said, “Only a life lived for others is a  life worthwhile.” I never fully understood that before I spent a week in Tuscaloosa, Alabama giving back to those in need.  In 2011,  a huge tornado tore through the town of Tuscaloosa bringing destruction along with it. Jobs were lost, homes were destroyed, and lives were taken. Habitat for Humanity decided Tuscaloosa needed them. Since then, numerous houses have been built thanks to this organization. My grandfather, Denis Mulcahy, has always been one to give back. He founded Project  Children in the 1970s as a way to get young people away from the political unrest and violence happening in Northern Ireland and allow them to visit the United States. Today, the program operates a summer internship program for Irish college students whom I got to work with this summer. My week in Alabama taught me many life lessons on how everyone should live. Working on site we received help from many of the homeowners of other habitat houses. They told us their stories; how they lost their homes or how they couldn’t afford a new home right now. They helped as we caulked and painted.

Meeting the Irish interns gave me some new perspectives as well. As a requirement, they must work with habitat for a week before their internship. Waking up bright and early, fighting over showers, and eating breakfast within an hour before leaving is a lot to handle, especially for some of us who aren't used to that routine. Everyone would show up nonetheless with enthusiasm. We would work for hours on end in sweltering, hot weather.  Though, through all the hardships, we put in our best effort. We sodded, painted, and sawed ’til lunch, then afterward it was back to work! Exhausted at the end of the day, it was then time for ‘banter’. Cultural differences aside, we really had a great time and formed some amazing friendships for life.

You can ask any of the interns what they learned in Alabama, everyone will have something different to say. It was definitely a life changing experience. Giving back to others is, in all honesty, the greatest thing a person can do. It brings you gratification that someone has somewhere to sleep and eat and live. You improve a life and, in turn, it changes yours. Margaret Mead once said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has.”

 

 

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Three Generations "Giving Back" in Alabama


Kaitlyn Mulcahy, a high school student and Project Children Volunteer, Fairfield County Connecticut.


Project Children Habitat for Humanity is an experience that you carry with you for a lifetime. The alarm clocks blared as we woke with the sun each day. Groggy, we’d stumble to get dressed, grab a light breakfast and lather up our pale faces with sunscreen. We headed to the vans and off to the job sites we went, not knowing what the day would bring. We divided into our work teams - there was a job for everyone. And so the work began - a nail to be hammered, a wall to be painted, a bathroom to be tiled - there was never an idle set of hands.


How people with varied cultures and skill-sets can be thrown together to become a well-oiled machine to attain a goal within a week can only be achieved through strong leadership. That leadership is my grandfather, Denis Mulcahy, with his vision and drive to make a difference each and every day. It was incredible to see how our work would eventually impact others, as our ultimate goal unfolded. We shared in the joy of the dedication, as people gathered from near and far – neighbors and volunteers, along with the mayor, stood shoulder to shoulder as the “Key of the Home” was presented to the Tuscaloosa family. I saw that no act of kindness is ever wasted and that we could make a difference… one family at a time.


“Leadership by Example” is a very powerful thing. The opportunity to work side by side not only with my grandfather, but also with my dad on this project, was the experience of a lifetime for me. Who knew that this seven-day experience, building houses during the day for families in need in a hot & humid Tuscaloosa, Alabama, then sitting 'round the camp fire at night "unplugged" from the distractions of technology, would also forge friendships to last a lifetime. I will carry with me the privilege of giving back, the skills of working as a team toward a common goal and the joy of friendships built along the way. I thank my grandfather - “The Chairman”, for having the fire in his belly and leadership to have made this all possible.