Habitat for Humanity at work in Atmore

Published 8:24 pm Monday, March 5, 2012

Students from Holy Family University in Philadelphia volunteer in Atmore with Habitat for Humanity.

While students from all over the country head for vacation, 18 college students from Holy Family University in Philadelphia spent their spring break helping Habitat for Humanity improve two homes in Atmore.

The students gave up a week of fun and relaxation to help others through Habitat’s national alternative break program, Collegiate Challenge.

The students arrived in Brewton, where they were also slated to work on a home, Sunday afternoon and spent their nights at the Brewton YMCA. Monday and Tuesday, two groups of students spent the day in Atmore helping to repair and paint the exterior of the homes of two elderly widows as part of Habitat’s Brush With Kindness campaign.

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Alecia Glaize, director of Habitat for Humanity of Escambia County, said it is always a privilege to work with such kind and dedicated young men and women.

“Every time I work with a group of students like this it renews my hope that maybe the world is going to be okay,” Glaize said. “It’s so wonderful to see bright, energetic, giving young people. It’s always a blessing to work with them.”

The volunteer workers split into three groups in order to accomplish their goal of improving one home in Brewton and two in the Atmore area. The groups in Atmore refinished, painted and pressure washed portions of a home on Old Bratt Road as well as a house on Peacock Lane in the Robinsonville community.

Johnathan Salanak, a sophomore at Holy Family, said this year is his second experience with the alternative break program.

“Last year we were in the Bay St. Louis area in Mississippi,” Salanak said. “I’m completely addicted to it. It’s been really great.”

Kristen McCombs, also a sophomore, said she has feels she has gotten as much out of her trip as she has been able to give.

“This is my first time,” she said. “John inspired me and it’s been really, really good. I’ve never been down South before so it’s really nice here. Everyone is super friendly.”

Tuesday afternoon the student volunteers were truly treated to a dose of southern hospitality as they took a break from their work for a lunch and tour of Atmore from Atmore Area Chamber of Commerce director Sheryl Vickery.

The students’ afternoon began with a taste of Atmore’s cuisine via a lunch catered by David’s Catfish House and the Alabama Wing House. Afterwards, Vickery and YMCA manager Ross Terry gave the group a hayride tour of the city.

Glaize said the students were able to get a lot accomplished during their brief stay in Escambia County. She added the volunteers would also get to have some fun during the alternative break week.

“Thursday evening they will be treated to a beach theme meal and painting party at the Hourglass in Brewton,” Glaize said. “Friday the students plan to enjoy a day at the beach before beginning their trip back home.”

Glaize said this is the fifth year the Escambia County Habitat has hosted college volunteers through the Collegiate Challenge program.