Spackling and painting aren’t usually associated with spring break, but nine Upper School students and two faculty members picked up brush and putty knife as part of a volunteer effort with Habitat for Humanity.
The Hamden Hall contingent, made up of faculty members Suzanne Hamlin-Smith and Lisa Motter; senior Shana Bellamy; juniors Emily Valin, Claire Pancoast, Victoria Shemo, John D'Angelo, Elyza Lebel, Kai Clemons, Trevor Baer, and Katherine Liseo; and sophomore Eve Perrone, traveled to Key West during the first week of spring break. There, the volunteers were assigned to a renovation project that had them restoring the historic William Weech American Legion Post #168 in Bahama Village, Key West.
“This was Hamden Hall's first service trip and it was a very rewarding experience to work side by side with students to help a community,” said Mrs. Hamlin-Smith of the experience.
According to Mrs. Hamlin-Smith, Habitat for Humanity of Key West & Lower Florida Keys’ officials explained that the historic building they helped restore is a post built by African-American soldiers after World War II because they were not allowed to be members of the post used by other returning soldiers. The building, located on Emma Street, had fallen into disrepair and several volunteer groups are currently working to restore the building.
Hamden Hall's group was the first group of high school students involved in the project. Students spackled and double painted the entire inside of the building.
“Repairing the interior of the American Legion's building gave me insight about how special this building is to the community of Key West, taught me new skills, and showed how appreciative they were of our hard work,” said Victoria Shemo. “I met new people who worked for Habitat for Humanity in Key West and the love and investment they have in their work is inspiring. I had a lot of fun on this trip and I felt it was very rewarding. I hope we will be able to go again next year.”
According to Mrs. Motter – who used to live in Key West after college – Victoria was the catalyst for the service trip. Mrs. Motter further noted that the overall experience was enhanced because of the patriotic offshoot of the project. The American Legion Adjunct who worked alongside the Hamden Hall volunteers was a 34-year veteran who was able to offer insight to students and faculty members on veteran’s affairs.
Hamden Hall Country Day School is a nurturing and inclusive community with a dynamic learning environment that promotes academic excellence by understanding each child and fostering their individual growth.