ITHACA, New York, April 18
For this year’s Spring Break Service Trip, Cornell Law School sent twenty-five students to Houston, Texas, to work with Habitat for Humanity. The students worked for four days, contributing a total of 600 hours to Habitat.
We spent half our time on deconstruction, tearing down donated houses and salvaging materials for use in future building projects. We took out windows and doors, removed electrical wiring and light fixtures, salvaged hardware, de-roofed, and pulled up floorboards for de-nailing. We also worked on a construction site, where we put up beams, siding, and fencing. It was amazing to see that in just one day, the site progressed from a concrete block pierced with wooden studs to an enclosed building that was on its way to becoming a house. While Habitat had been behind in its building schedule before we arrived, by the end of the week they were ahead of schedule!
Karly, our service coordinator, gave us a tour of a finished neighborhood and explained Habitat’s arduous financing and selection process, intended to ensure that its homeowners will be able to maintain their home. Homeowners put in “sweat equity” by helping build their own homes, and also contribute a monthly payment over twenty years. Habitat gives its homeowners subsidies on top-of-the-line appliances and installs “green” materials with longevity and long term cost-effectiveness in mind. We saw firsthand that the finished product was attractive and of high quality.
The Spring Break Service Trip is an important opportunity for students to take a break from law school and dedicate a week to service in a new place with new people; it is a worthy investment that Cornell Law makes in its students. This year’s participants are proud of the work we did and look forward to an equally rewarding trip in 2013.
--Amanda Bradley ’13, President, Spring Break Service Trip