• Greater Springfield Habitat for Humanity

Alternative spring breakers volunteer at GSHFH

Updated: Mar 17

Greater Springfield Habitat for Humanity (GSHFH) recently welcomed volunteer help from Anna Maria College students on spring break. During their five-day trip, the group of seven people, ranging from freshmen to seniors plus a faculty member, stayed in nearby lodging. They spent their days at the organization’s warehouse or on a build site cleaning, tidying, moving construction supplies, and helping where needed.


Three Anna Maria College volunteers, including Emma "Em" Candelli (center), maneuver a boxed-up sink on March 7 to move it elsewhere in the Greater Springfield Habitat for Humanity warehouse.

In previous years, the alternative spring breakers had traditionally visited a Habitat for Humanity affiliate farther away in southern states such as Texas, Mississippi, and Maryland. Due to the remaining COVID-19 pandemic restrictions and protocols, this year’s group opted to stay closer to home. At just 57 miles from the Paxton, Massachusetts, campus, Springfield seemed to be a worthwhile option. Both the college crew and GSHFH team said they were pleased with the choice.


“We appreciate them thinking of us,” said Sheri L. Green, GSHFH Construction manager. “Their enthusiasm, earnestness to work, and the donation of their time was extremely helpful.”


Melissa Laneve, Anna Maria College Campus Ministry director, said the group’s goals was to do what was needed, help where they could, and accomplish as much as possible.


Opal Powers, a senior majoring in Liberal Studies, said this is her fourth alternative spring break. She said she enjoys these trips as they are opportunities to give back to the community and support the Habitat mission of providing safe, decent, and affordable housing to lower-income people. She has particularly enjoyed volunteering at Greater Springfield Habitat.


“It’s very inviting,” she said. “I don’t feel out of place and everyone is included.”


Freshman Emma “Em” Candelli agreed. Although she’s a first-time alternative spring breaker, she’s no stranger to volunteering. Em said she has the most community service hours in her hometown of Wallingford, Connecticut. She added she wanted to participate in this trip because she has some familiarity with warehouse experience and can give back. Em said she loves the Holyoke build site and the amazing crew, particularly Sheri.


“She’s an inspiration to me,” said Em said, a fire science and para medicine major. “She has a dedication to the mission and motto of Habitat and that’s something we need to see more of. My advice to anyone who wants to volunteer is to just go for it. Drop your expectations and go with the flow. It’s a great learning experience.”


If you would like to volunteer at Greater Springfield Habitat, go to habitatspringfield.org/volunteer

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