Gonzaga University students were hardworking and picked up skills quickly on Sisters Habitat for Humanity projects. photo provided\
Gonzaga University students were hardworking and picked up skills quickly on Sisters Habitat for Humanity projects. photo provided\
Eleven Gonzaga University students out of Spokane, Washington, spent their spring break in Sisters, volunteering for Sisters Habitat for Humanity as part of Habitat for Humanity International’s “Collegiate Challenge.”

They were among the last groups allowed to travel before Habitat International suspended all builds requiring domestic or international travel in response to the COVID-19 outbreak.

The students installed siding on the Neal family’s home, and built heat pump surrounds for two other homes in the Village Meadows neighborhood.

Only two of the students had any previous construction experience. Habitat’s experienced construction crew took most of the first day to familiarize the students with safety protocols and introduced them to power tools and construction techniques. The construction crew worked closely with each student team to make sure their work met Sisters Habitat’s quality standards.

The community of Sisters embraced the students with open arms. Sisters-Camp Sherman Fire Department opened their Community Room for a “Welcome to Sisters” potluck the first day; Shepherd of the Hills Lutheran Church provided shelter for students; Sisters Athletic Club allowed them to use their showers; and teams of Habitat volunteers provided lunch to the jobsite each day.

No stranger to volunteerism, most of the students have done volunteer projects all over the United States. One student has accepted a post with the Peace Corps after graduation this summer. Three others worked on landscaping projects in Kentucky last year. Gonzaga University helps match up students with groups in need of volunteers. The group that came to Sisters wanted to focus on affordable housing.

Student Team Leader Jackie Lozaw said that working on the Sisters Habitat project was a “great opportunity to learn from a community of people who do this work on a daily basis.”

Habitat Construction Manager Darleene Snider said that the “students from Gonzaga University were one of the top two colleges we’ve ever hosted in terms of their attention to detail and their ability to pick up new skills quickly. By Friday, they were able to work with minimal supervision. I would take them as a crew any day, anywhere.”