Tuscaloosa, ALMar 4th, 2017 to Mar 11th, 2017
Trip Logistics and Participant Requirements:
We will stay at Camp Y’s Acres, an organization that often houses Habitat volunteers. The camp has bunk beds (the houses sleep up to 35 people), as well as recreation activities such as basketball, games and nearby hikes. Most of our food will be provided by Camp Y’s Acres, but we will have plenty of opportunities to experience food in downtown Tuscaloosa!
We will start our drive on the morning of Saturday, March 4th in two cars and arrive in Tuscaloosa by the evening. We will get back to Charlottesville on the evening of Saturday, March 11th. We hope to use cars from participants, if not we will have to spend a little more money and get a rental car.
Participants should be willing and excited to work hard, seeing as our hours on the construction site are long. Participants should also be eager to meet new people, not only within our own ASB group, but also at Habitat in Tuscaloosa. Finally, a desire to learn about and more fully understand disaster relief as well as the community and culture in Tuscaloosa is necessary!
While in Tuscaloosa we will be working with Habitat for Humanity, an organization that helps build and repair homes in areas of need. In 2011 a large tornado hit the city and residents are still recovering and rebuilding. In the past 5 years, Habitat for Humanity has played a large role in helping the city piece itself back together. As Habitat volunteers we will be working on their work sites, homes of residents in Tuscaloosa, most of which were damaged by the tornado. Our work could be painting, drilling nails or anything required to build a house! No experience is necessary, they will teach us everything we need to know! We will get to meet and spend time with residents whose homes have been rebuilt by Habitat, maybe even those whose homes we are working on. We hope to more fully understand the relationship between University of Alabama and Tuscaloosa as well as the relationship between UVa and the surrounding Charlottesville community. We hope to volunteer with Habitat in Charlottesville before March, to familiarize the group with Habitat’s vision and purpose.
Tuscaloosa is located on the western side of Alabama and is a major center for industry, commerce, and education. Tuscaloosa is best known as being the home of the University of Alabama which is the largest university in the state of Alabama at around 36,000 students enrolled. It is also very racially diverse as it is about 54% white and 42% black. Manufacturing is one of the main sources of jobs in the city as large corporations such as BF Goodrich Tires, GAF materials, and Mercedes-Benz have manufacturing plants there. Despite this Tuscaloosa has a fairly high poverty rate at 29% and low median salary of $30,000.
The community that we will be working with will be the poorer neighborhoods most directly impacted by the 2011 tornado which devastated the city. The tornado caused 64 deaths and over $2.4 billion in damages, which made it at the time the costliest tornado in United States history. Even 5 years after the tornado hit, many neighborhoods have not recovered fully, both physically and psychologically. Habitat Tuscaloosa before 2011 built about 2 houses every year since the tornado, they have been building 10-12 houses every year mostly in Alberta City and the West End area in Tuscaloosa. These houses have 30 year zero percent interest mortgages which are much more affordable for people in the poorer neighborhoods of Tuscaloosa still trying to recover. We will be able to work directly on one of these projects helping an impoverished area of the city.
Some potential recreation activities include, visiting Lake Lurleen State Park, touring/walking around University of Alabama’s campus, taking a driving tour of Tuscaloosa, walking or biking along the Black Warrior River, attending a UA sporting event and exploring downtown, including various museums. Camp Y also has various games, sports and hikes for us to use. There is a lot to do in Tuscaloosa and we want to know what the group is interested in when planning recreation activities.
About the Site Leaders:
Celeste is a 2nd year in the Nursing school from Arlington, Virginia. She loves laughing, running, cooking and making new friends. She can do some pretty good impersonations of others, but rarely likes to admit it. Celeste went to Nashville with ASB last year and loved getting to know the other people on the team. She’s so excited to meet and help lead everyone going to Tuscaloosa this year-it’s going to be an incredible experience!!
Chad is a 2nd year pre-med, biology major from Harrisonburg, VA. He loves watching and playing every type of sport, but especially soccer, basketball, and golf. On a long road trip he will most likely be jamming to the typical mix of Taylor Swift, country, and a lot of rap, and is not afraid to sing along despite his lack of musical talent. Last year he went to Annapolis, MD to work with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation. He met a ton of amazing people while working with an organization that was making a big difference that community. He is incredibly excited to be leading a trip this year and is working to make this trip as meaningful as his last!
The whole week before I left for my ASB trip I was such a wreck. I was so nervous about being with a random group of people from all over Grounds for a whole week, and I was the only first year going to Nashville. However, within only a couple hours I realized how incredible the trip was going to be. The random group from all over Grounds ended up being a unique group of individuals who all had a desire to serve another community and explore a new city. I’m grateful to have 9 new friends, friends I wouldn’t have known if it weren’t for ASB. I also had a chance to make an impact in a city hundreds of miles from my hometown. I’m so excited to be involved with ASB again this year! — Celeste