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CSE Students Spend Spring Break Building Home in West Virginia

CSE Students Spend Spring Break Building Home in West Virginia


Morristown, N.J. (March 19, 2019) – Ah, spring break, that classic American college tradition that elicits images of warm weather and poolside antics. Instead of indulging in these rituals, 11 CSE students spent their week serving others. The students joined Almost Heaven Habitat for Humanity in Greenbrier County, West Virginia to build a house for a family whose home had been destroyed by a devastating flood in 2016.

What West Virginia lacked in warm weather, it made up for in hospitality, and though it couldn't offer any poolsides, it provided learning and perspective that made their spring break of service truly meaningful.

Working alongside the homeowners, students insulated rooms to ensure their warmth for next winter and sheetrocked the walls that would one day house the family's memories. The homeowner's presence was a tangible reminder that CSE was helping to build not just a home but a life.

This week transformed students from construction novices to veteran builders. By the end of the trip, the house, which had been only a skeleton at the beginning of the week, was no longer recognizable. In fact, it was so warm in the house on the final day that coats were removed: a major victory. However, students left the worksite with more than just newfound construction experience. They gained a real understanding of the charism of charity that CSE holds dear.

"On the last night in West Virginia, the homeowners, Habitat workers and volunteers, and their families joined the students for dinner," recalls Jayne Murphy-Morris, director of volunteerism at CSE. "Together they broke bread and reflected on the week and all that had been experienced and accomplished. In the words of Oscar Romero, we should 'aspire not to have more but to be more."

While CSE students traded bathing suits for insulation suits and skipped the beach in favor of freezing cold temperatures, there were no complaints.

"With every choice we make we have the opportunity to choose charity, and CSE helps to make that choice easier," says Stephanie Dempsey, '19, who attended the trip.

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