When college students hear about spring break, their minds typically gravitate toward warm destinations with friends. For Widener University sophomore Jacklyn Guht, she felt a calling elsewhere.
Guht, who’s studying psychology, spent her spring break, March 4 to 8, in Pensacola, Fla., assisting the local Habitat for Humanity in building a single mom’s home from scratch.
“We got to build alongside the family we were building for, and we talked to them and got to know their story,” said Guht. “I asked her how it felt to build her own house, and she loved having the ability to do it and tell her kids about it.”
Habitat for Humanity, she said, is a nonprofit organization that employs families and the immediate community to assist in building homes for those who are in need of shelter.
“Each year, students travel to new places to explore and immerse themselves in the culture of the areas, while serving hand-in-hand with those at local Habitat for Humanity affiliates,” said Jeanine Snow, director of student engagement, in a press release. “Students make lasting connections with students, faculty and staff who serve as learning partners on the trips, and those from the local communities while doing service that changes the lives of so many people.”
Previously, she spent her spring break in 2018 in Sacramento, Calif., renovating a home for a family in need.
Guht said she was attracted to the idea of spending spring break doing community service after attending an on-campus tour of Widener and seeing the university host an involvement fair for students.
“I have always been involved in helping others, and I think that’s a big part of college,” said Guht. “This experience has given me an opportunity to do that, and giving up your spring break to do this isn’t something that many people do because it’s a time to have fun.”
Guht, who is also on the university’s track team, said she seeks opportunities to volunteer through her school’s civic engagement office and through her sport.
She added the trip allowed her and the group of students and faculty she traveled with “to explore the town and culture in a way that you wouldn’t be able to.”
“Growing up in Mullica Hill, it’s a very well-off town, and not everyone has that,” said Guht. “You get to see what people have to go through to get to where they are and you learn with the people you’re working with.”
She went on to add she didn’t know most of the people she worked with, and going on a plane with them to a completely different state was “life-changing” because she was able to befriend people she wouldn’t have been able to meet otherwise.
With the club and its trip being in high demand, Guht said she wouldn’t hesitate to take the opportunity again.