BCLC Students Repair Homes in Georgia for Those Less Fortunate
Nineteen students from the Business Connections Learning Community (BCLC) gave up a portion of their winter break to clean and paint houses, build wheelchair ramps and tidy up the yards of people in need in Macon, Georgia.
The three-day service trip is part of an annual School of Business pilgrimage to aid low-income, elderly and disabled people.
UConn students said they returned from three days of hard work with a sense of accomplishment and stronger bonds with their classmates.
“We saw states of decay that you normally don’t see around Connecticut,” said Carter Janssen ’18, one of the trip leaders. “A lot of people were put in situations that they might be embarrassed by, which is understandable. Some of them weren’t so eager to come out and say hi to us. But we know they all appreciated the help all the same.”
Chris Colgan ’18, another trip organizer, said that one woman who received a wheelchair ramp looked so happy that there were people who cared about her.
“She was reserved and shy,” Colgan said. “It seemed like she was sad that it had to happen, but grateful at the same time.”
Macon is a financially divided city. While some live in luxury, many others live in inadequate houses, Janssen said. The BCLC students worked under the guidance of Rebuilding Macon, a nonprofit organization that last year renovated 250 homes in the city. They were on the work site from Jan. 11-13.
“One of the best parts of the trip was becoming closer to the people in our group,” Colgan said. “There were some people in the BCLC on my floor that I hadn’t even talked to, but this trip changed that.”
The BCLC funds their trip through student payments. Each student gave $250, which covered gas, food and the three rental vans. The UConn students were paired with a group from the University of Illinois both onsite and overnight at the churches where they were invited to stay.
Janssen and Colgan recruited students for the trip, contacted churches to make sleeping arrangements, lined up the rental car, budgeted the trip, and performed many other duties. They, in turn, praised Rebuilding Macon Executive Director Debra Rollins with helping make the trip a success.
Colgan said that one student who was hesitant about the trip, said afterward, “This trip was so much more than I expected it to be. I’m endlessly glad I came.”
Jess Nieves ’19 and Hayley Lapadula ’18 stressed how friendly the entire group was and how much they bonded.
“I honestly didn’t anticipate how much fun it would be,” said Nieves, adding that taking herself out of her ‘comfort zone’ was a good experience.