Spending my summer with habitat

Katie O'Brien

When you live within walking distance of the coast, hot days and cool summer nights are expected to transpire one place and one place only, on the sand. I intended on spending my vacation like any other kid from central New Jersey, at the beach.

However, when I told my friends I would be spending one week in Lexington, Ky. to work with Habitat for Humanity while staying at a place called Christian Bluegrass Camp, I was greeted with looks of confusion.

“Why Kentucky? Can’t you pick somewhere else? What about work? It’s going to be SO HOT,” were the most common responses I received when I told my friends and family about my plans. I typically answered with a confident, “No you guys, I think it’s going to be really cool.” I was determined not to let anyone make me doubt my decision to volunteer.

Working on the Habitat site, I did things I never imagined I would have the courage to do. I climbed a ladder up to the roof of a house and pulled off siding with a hammer. This was borderline terrifying for someone who isn’t exactly what you’d consider tall.

The satisfaction of conquering a fear while helping others at the same time is unmatchable. If you’ve ever volunteered before or even just completed a small task that you didn’t have to for someone, you know what I’m talking about.

I understand that not everyone will conquer his or her deepest, darkest fear during the Big Event or gain some new life perspective filing papers at town hall. However, whether or not you realize it, volunteering will bring you out of your comfort zone and force you to engage in things you wouldn’t have before. And if nothing else, you’ll feel a little better about yourself because you didn’t spend your summer sitting on the couch eating Cheetos and playing Xbox.

You don’t have to rip siding off a house in order to “do something” with your summer vacation. Whether it’s something as small as working at a local animal shelter or road tripping across the country to work with Habitat, any kind of volunteering makes an impact. Even on a local level, your efforts matter.

If you want to volunteer, sign up and just go for it. If there is a time to get started, it’s right now while we’re still in college and the resources are readily available.