While thousands of students are hitting beaches or ski slopes to celebrate spring break, eight Oregon students are helping the church-sponsored Salt Lake Interfaith Hospitality Network by building homes for underprivileged people.
The students were in Salt Lake City this week from George Fox University, a Friends (Quaker) Church-sponsored university.During their five-day stay, they shared quarters with homeless families in local churches through the hospitality network.
Early in the week, they worked with the network, meeting homeless people, scrubbing the hospitality network offices and generally helping out wherever needed. Tuesday they were assigned to the Life-Care program, which serves senior citizens who need assistance. LifeCare is sponsored by the Salt Lake Community Ser-vices Council.
They finished up their stay working on houses for Habitat for Humanity, another nonprofit agency that builds and refurbishes homes for sale to low-income fam-ilies.
Every year, a group of students at the university sign on to work in different cities, said Ken Mitchell-Phillips, a leader of the group who is a graduate student.
"For us, it's a mission trip," he said. "We're here to do whatever we can to help before we head back to school."
Most of the students are freshmen, sophomores and juniors at the university. They pay their own way to work in different communities - this year, five total.
A highlight of the trip was getting to know some of the homeless families being helped by Salt Lake Interfaith Hospitality Network, Mitchell-Phillips said. Tuesday, several of the students went with their new friends to the St. Vincent de Paul dining room for lunch, as well.
The network "adopts" a small number of homeless families, in partnership with local churches. The churches provide shelter for a week at a time, as well as companionship and mentoring to help the parents get jobs.