Habitat for Humanity Collegiate Challenge: Building a House in 30 Days

(Last Updated On: March 29, 2017)


Having been founded in 1987, Greensboro’s Habitat for Humanity is celebrating its 30th anniversary. With their Collegiate Challenge underway, college students celebrated the anniversary by building a home in 30 days for part of their spring break.

One such field team came from Hamilton College in New York. Coming from 36 inches of snow to Greensboro’s sunny March days, students like Alexandru Hirsu enjoyed the outdoor work with gentle skies after a long 12-hour drive.

“I’ve done this for three years, including this one,” said Hirsu, who has been part of the Collegiate Challenge before in New Jersey and West Virginia. “Last year I thought, ‘Hey, this would be a great idea to spend my second week of spring break.’ I always wanted to do construction in the Habitat environment.”

The Collegiate Challenge has been going on in Greensboro for about 14 years.

“College chapters across the United States actually sign up and come during their spring break to work and build with us,” said Director of Development at Habitat Greensboro, Daintry O’Brien.

“They usually come on a Sunday and then they leave on a Saturday. We work Monday through Friday. We work really hard but we also try to have fun and do special things. Hamilton College is the fifth university that we’ve had with us during this spring break and we are super appreciative of them.”

For Hirsu, the reward of the work is watching the work come together.

“I have some experience building houses and it’s always nice when you see, not necessarily the finished product, but just the end of a stage…whether it’s the interior or it’s painting that we’re doing,” he said.

“It can be challenging at times, but it’s a fun experience.”

For Greensboro’s Habitat for Humanity, the 30-day Collegiate Challenge has been a learning experience. The Hamilton students are just one of the five field teams who have worked on building homes with Habitat. The other colleges include Eastern University, Widener University, the University of Rochester and the Kuztown University of Pennsylvania.

“We really love having the kids here and having that experience so we are talking about opening some things even in the summertime so that there might be an opportunity for college students to come back and do the same type of work over a one week period,” said O’Brien.

The Hamilton College group worked on a home in Quail Oaks West. Habitat Greensboro has 15 lots there with five homes already built across the street.

“When we are finished with this neighborhood, it doesn’t mean we leave because we still stay active with our home owners,” said O’Brien. “Our last home will be dedicated sometime this month. Then we’ll be building houses in other locations in Greensboro.”

Habitat Greensboro recruits volunteers to help house and feed the working students.

“We have more people who want to do it than we have spots, which is an awesome opportunity to have,” said O’Brien. “The people who they’ve (the Hamilton students) went to dinner with on Tuesday night, they’ve hosted every single group of kids every week which is just amazing.

“It’s a lot but they’re great with big warm hearts and they love spending time with the college students.”

The students also get some time to explore Greensboro.

“The Tuesday family recommended where to go in downtown Greensboro to LeBauer Park,” said Hirsu. “We played some corn hole, we took advantage of other activities like foosball, ping-pong and golf.

“Our leaders did a great job in organizing the trip and bonding us together.”

Interested in volunteering? Check out Habitat’s for Humanity’s Greater Greensboro website at