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Mason Greeks spend spring break with Habitat for Humanity

March 29, 2017   /   by Alexa Rogers

For George Mason University students, spring break offers time for a vacation in warmer climates or relaxing during a well-earned week off. But for some members of George Mason’s fraternities and sororities, this year’s spring break meant a week volunteering with Habitat for Humanity.

The alternative Greek spring break trip is offered each year to students in Fraternity and Sorority Life who want to spend their time off making a difference in communities along the East Coast.

Sophomore Linh Ho, a member of Chi Omega sorority, elected to go on the trip for the second time after having a meaningful experience last year.  

“I always liked to do community service and I thought this would be a good way to spend my spring break,” Ho said.

This year, the group worked on demolishing a building in Moncks Corner, a suburb of Charleston, S.C. The building had been vacant since the 1970s and, along with a building next door, is being transformed into an afterschool program space with a multipurpose space for senior citizens.

“Last year we learned about building [houses] but this time we were taking one down,” said senior Harper Lovegrove, a member of Zeta Tau Alpha sorority. “So it was interesting to see … woodwork that we built last year at a different site that we were now taking down.”

Junior Samantha Hacherl, a member of Gamma Phi Beta sorority, said the group was able to interact with members of the community who would often stop to ask about the project. One neighbor even decided to join the effort himself and brought his own hammer to the work site every day.

In addition to learning some new demolition skills, Hacherl said the group also needed to learn how to communicate and work effectively with each other. A group of Greek students from Purdue University joined in on the trip and many of them were in leadership positions similar to those in the Mason group.

“We had to learn to take a step back and let everyone have a turn,” Hacherl said.   

They got to experience some of Charleston’s southern charm, including taking in the view from the Battery, strolling down King Street and eating at a bakery that catered a recent celebrity wedding. They also visited Greek organizations at the College of Charleston and had a discussion with one of their faculty advisors about the growing gentrification in Charleston and reflections on personal privilege.  

Lovegrove said group members had many discussions about how eye-opening the trip was for them.

“Being in fraternities and sororities, we already are privileged because we can afford to be in them and afford these opportunities that other students or nonstudents do not have,” Lovegrove said.  

Ho said she enjoyed getting out of her comfort zone on the trip, both through the physical work and getting to know people she might not have met otherwise.

“My favorite part of each trip so far … was making genuine friendships,” Ho said.