All play, some work

Experiencing FreshCo & Habitat for Humanity

“Firework Five” orientation group

UGA’s Freshman College Summer Experience has been an unforgettable time that I will be forever grateful for. I have learned so much from the month I spent here in college that will be of much value to me in my next four years at UGA. Academically, I know better what is expected out of me and how to better manage my time for schoolwork. Geographically, I know my way around campus much better. Oh, and the bus routes. Thank goodness I have learned the bus routes. And for the most important part: the dining halls. I now know all the best food items to get at the different dinning halls which is definitely crucial.

One of the best things that has came out of FreshCo is the friendships. Being with only 276 other students, it is very easier to become acquainted with majority of the students, as well as develop strong friendships with students that will last for the next four years of college. I have made friendships through FreshCo that I more than likely would not have made in the fall. We are like our own little freshman family that has ties together through this summer experience. UGA’s Freshman College Summer Experience is something I would recommend to all upcoming freshmen.

For one of our FreshCo UNIV classes, our community service project was Habitat for Humanity. I was not sure of what to expect at all because this was my first time working with this organization. People gave me the idea that we would be building houses from the ground up which, believe it or not, is not very appealing to me since I am not really one who particularly enjoys manual labor. Luckily, this is not at all what was in store for us. My experience with Habitat for Humanity was a great, truly humbling one that brought many memories that I will always keep with me.

When we pulled up on the first Thursday, the first thing I noticed were the bright, multicolored houses. They are very eye-catching to say the least. They were two toned with colors like purple, yellow, green, etc. They were very unique houses, but the colors grew on me the more I looked at them.

I joked around with everybody prior to the first day, and told them I would be working inside and not in the heat, and I got total sarcastic responses like, “Oh yeah, because you can build a house from the inside.” But, I actually managed to keep my word. Deryne and I touched up the paint on the walls in the houses that were almost finished. While we were painting inside of the cool house, everybody else was outside pouring concreate or painting the railing on the porches. Needless to say, everybody who had to work outside was extremely jealous of us.

This first day also introduced us to a Habitat for Humanity volunteer named Gary. Gary had a very crude sense of humor, but at the same time, he was extremely kind. While talking to Gary, I learned that he actually lives in California, but his work with Habitat brought him to Athens, Georgia. He was truly passionate for his work with Habitat for Humanity, and it showed. But to sum it up and make a long story short, Gary is the man.

After the first day of working at Habitat for Humanity, I was excited to go back the next week.

On week two of Habitat for Humanity, I did not get the luxury of being inside most of the work day, but I was fine with that. We started the day out painting concrete boards, and I honestly have no idea what they were being used for. After we finished painting, a few of the girls went inside the “tool building” to show off our organization skills. That house was a wreck, but with a little clean-up help, we were able to get it back in order by the end of the day. I also learned that Callye Ann is the queen of organization.

Pressure washing the porch

On the third and final week of Habitat for Humanity, my job was to pressure wash the porch of one of the houses. I’ve never pressure washed before, but it looked like it could potentially be fun, so I volunteered to do it. It was surprisingly satisfying to watch a dirty, stained porch become clean as I pressure washed it. My other job that was bestowed upon me by my peers was to spray my overheated classmates with the pressure washer. From a distance, of course. It was nice and refreshing for them as well as fun for me.

Class group picture

In the future, I plan to graduate from UGA with a degree in Biology and continue my education to become a dentist. I believe experiences like Habitat for Humanity will help me achieve these goals, not only by giving me community service hours, but also by teaching me valuable life lessons that will go with me all throughout my life.

Habitat for Humanity was a different than a classroom setting, but that does not mean it lessens the learning experience. Sometimes, more learning takes place outside of the classroom rather than inside. As I reflect on my Habitat for Humanity experience, I realize how fortunate and blessed I am, and how important it is to help those who are less fortunate. If my three days working at Habitat for Humanity brings even the slightest blessings to a family in need or even the other volunteer workers for Habitat, then it was well worth my time. I am grateful that Professor Simrill gave us this service learning project, and I hope I can be involved in other Habitat for Humanity projects in the future.