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How about a spring break swinging hammers and helping strangers?

Katrin Frye

A Habitat for Humanity home in Columbia Falls took great strides toward completion over the past two months with the help of young volunteers. A National Service group with volunteers aged 18 to 24 came on the scene two months ago, and this month a steady stream of college students are spending spring break in hard hats and tool bags building a home for strangers.

For three weeks in March Habitat for Humanity of the Flathead hosts three different college groups. The week of the 17th it was a group of spring breakers from the University of Wisconsin – Stout.

“I think that it’s an incredible thing that young students nowadays would give up a spring break vacation and come out to work to- well, for all practical purposes, to help strangers,” Construction Site Supervisor Steve Tartaglino said.

Senior Jimmy Soderberg is a Construction Management Major at Wisconsin.

“I’ve been involved in Habitat for a couple of years. It’s nice that it’s a resume boost, but it’s nice to get out here. I mean, it’s fun to do trips; we’ve come out here, and then we did one down to Chicago last year. So, they’re fun, cheap- they’re cheap trips, so, what better way to spend the spring break than helping somebody out,” Soderberg said.

Tartaglino said another group of young volunteers have also been a huge help with this project. 9-weeks ago a group of 8 volunteers came as part of Americorps National Civilian Community Corps.    Team Leader Morgan Becker said they work projects that focus on disaster services, economic opportunity, education, environmental stewardship, healthy futures, and services for veterans and military families.

The Corps is done in Columbia Falls this week.

Becker said seeing the new groups come in remind her of where she was when she first got to the work site.

“We’ve been able to recognize their skills in ourselves and see how much we’ve grown, and be able to say, ‘yeah, we built all this, we put in those windows, and we sheeted this roof,’ and it’s really, really rewarding,” Becker said.

The house under construction sits at the end of a one way street. The whole block has been a Habitat for Humanity project for the past few years. 16 families will own their first homes when it’s completed.

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