Pro Vita: Habitat for Humanity

Berkshire School students spend Pro Vita Week working with Habitat for Humanity in NJ

Friday 3/4 

Today is our last day at Habitat and we plan to travel back to Berkshire at 12:00.

We arrived at the Restore and met with Sue Ann and Gordon at about 9:30am to complete some inventory, pricing, and sorting.  Sue Ann gave us our Habitat Safety Certificates and then it was off to work again. Kira and Masie worked on some administrative spread sheets. Penny and Kathleen worked on the Restore shelves to re-organize and sort the electrical items.  Gordon, Mr. Quilty, Lucy, and Kate headed off to the property of Griffith St. to lock up some expensive materials that Habitat cannot afford to lose.

Penny and Kathleen work to sort the electrical items on the Habitat Restore shelves.

At 11:30am Habitat will provide us with lunch and we will have a special visitor. The soon to be homeowner of the house own Eakin St. will be stopping by to meet us. We look forward to meeting her.  We have enjoyed our time here and look forward to bringing another group of students next year as well.

Sue Ann Leighty presenting us with our safety certificates at the Restore.

Penny, Kate, Kira, Maisie, Lucy, Kiana Pierce (Habitat for Humanity Homeowner), and Kathleen posing for our final picture before heading back to the Berkshires.

We want to thank the following people for helping to make this trip possible:

Sue Ann Leighty, Executive Director of Salem County Habitat for Humanity
Irene Dickey, Salem County Habitat for Humanity Board President
Gordon Hendry, Salem County Habitat for Humanity Volunteer
Dave Sparks, Salem County Habitat for Humanity Volunteer
Mike Maxwell, Salem County Habitat for Humanity Construction Manager
Bill Butler, Executive Director of Salem County YMCA
Pastor Keith Holt, First Assembly of God Church at Carneys Point
Jasper Turner, Director of Pro-Vita (Berkshire School)

Thursday 3/3 

New Jersey was a bit breezy and chilly today, but the weather didn’t quench our excitement at all. We arrived at the Restore at 9:00 a.m. sharp, and Mike, a project manager of Habitat, led us all the way to Eakin Street, Salem County, which would be our working site for today. We saw several beautiful two-storey houses built by Habitat volunteers on the street, and visited one of them built last year. It has a kitchen, two bathrooms, three bedrooms and a nice-looking living room. Though there was no furniture in it yet, it looked cozy to live.

We then helped clean up the abandoned construction materials around the house, which included bricks, wooden slabs, a picnic bench and some other trash. A journalist from Salem County Newspaper—The Sunbeam met us at the working site and interviewed us briefly. She also took several working pictures of us. Due to powerful team work, we finished all the work by 11:00 and enjoyed some delicious pizza provided by Mike.

Habitat for Humanity house on Eakin St. in Salem, NJ. The new homeowner is expected to be able to move in to this residence in early spring.

Lucy behind the table saw.

Mike, the Project Manager, and Peter Quilty discussing today’s business.


Kelly, journalist for the Salem County Regional Newspaper, The Sunbeam. Check out the article at

The Berkshire Crew surrounding Irene Dickey (President of the Salem County Habitat for Humanity Board of Directors) and Mike Maxwell (Habitat for Humanity Construction Manager) for the final picture of the day.

Wednesday 3/2

We woke up to the smell of pancakes this morning, Mr. Quilty was nice enough to cook us a great warm breakfast. We arrived at the Restore and began the safety lesson for the day. 

Gordon giving us the safety lesson. 

After the safety lesson, we split up in two crews. One to clean out the utility trailer and the other to finish the door and window inventory and measurements.

Kira and Maisie work on the window measurements.

Lucy, Kate, Penny, and Mr. Quilty sort items in the utility trailer.

Kathleen stores some wood under the storage trailer, behind the Restore.

It’s almost 12:00 and the trailer is cleared out and the window measurements are recorded on paper. Kate, Maisie, Kira, Kathleen, Penny, Gordon, and Mr. Quilty head to the site at Penns Grove to pick up a load of trash. 

Meanwhile, Lucy stays at the Restore to take a safety quiz. When the others return, we’ll head out to spend the afternoon in Philly!

On Wednesday afternoon, after we worked for half the day in the morning. After we had a lunch of Mega fries, chicken fingers, and huge sandwiches on the picnic table outside the First Assembly of God Church, we headed to Philly.

We visited the Liberty Bell and took a group picture in front of the Liberty Bell. It was said that,” on July 8, 1776, with the Liberty Bell ringing out from the tower of Independence Hall summoning the citizens of Philadelphia to hear the first public reading of the Declaration of Independence by Colonel John Nixon.”

Then, we went to the Franklin Square. It’s one of the famous historical sites. After that, we stayed in a large visitor center in Philadelphia for a while. There is a gift shop, a theater, and a place to eat food. For dinner, we ate at Joe’s. Most of the people ordered salads. Mr. Quilty ordered a cheese steak, which is one of the famous local foods in Philly.

After some mega-fries and sandwiches we headed to the Liberty Bell in Philedelphia. Everyone Smile! 

We spent some time on the cobblestone at Franklin Place.

Then we headed to China Town.

Tuesday 3/1

Spring Break attitudes quickly ended. We arrived at the Restore for safety training with “Flash Gordon” (a Habitat Humanity Volunteer). The Habitat for Humanity Restore, re-sells gently used home furniture, major house hold appliances, and home building supplies. We quickly began working on inventory for the Restore’s windows and doors with Mark, another Habitat Volunteer. Kate recorded the measurements, Kira and Lucy entered the information into a spreadsheet, and Penny, Kathleen, and Maisie measured and moved the windows and doors.

12:00 quickly arrived and it was time to pick up the pizza (The best pizza from Salem County according to Bruce Willis, we still have to try mega fries), provided by Habitat, and headed to a new home site in Penn’s Grove. We enjoyed our pizza outside in the sun at the new site and then began to empty out a construction storage trailer that had remain untouched for awhile. We spent the remainder of the day emptying the trailer, sweeping it out, sorting through it’s contents, and making new shelves. We then re-loaded the trailer with the materials and tools for the new site and loaded a utility trailer that was returned to the Restore for sorting. We will sort out the contents on Wednesday at the Restore before heading to Philly for the afternoon. Please see our before and after shots of the storage trailer and our pictures of the utility trailer. We worked hard today!

We ended the evening eating leftovers and enjoying some ice cream and cookies. Yum!

Measuring and moving doors for inventory.

Kira recording measurements.

Enjoying pizza, provided by Habitat, at the site.

The trailer prior to the “big clean”.

Dave Sparks, Habitat for Humanity Volunteer and former Board Member, helping us with the trailer cleaning.

The trailer after the cleaning.

The trailer packed and ready to go to the re-store.

One last clean of the site.

The proud clean-up crew!

Monday 2/28

We left from icy and rainy Berkshire at 9:30am to start our five and a half hour-long journey to Salem County, NJ. Who knew it was going 60 degrees with no chance of snow? The habitat group, comprised of Kate Yoder, Lucy Fowlkes, Kira Puth, Maisie Noesen, Penny Ni, and Kathleen Huang (and Berkshire School faculty Peter Quilty and Kristina Splawn), were all thrilled that ground was not covered with snow! And, get this, some of the grass was green!  Spring break started early for this group! We arrived at the church, First Assembly of God, in Carney’s Point late Monday afternoon and set up camp. The rest of the afternoon and evening were filled with grocery shopping, making dinner, and preparing for the next day.

With each nail hammered or block laid, we serve as Christ’s hands and feet, helping build His Kingdom on earth. His habitat for humanity.

—Jonathan Reckford, CEO, Habitat for Humanity International.

Kira recording inventory!

Kira recording inventory!

Organizing the doors and windows!

Organizing the doors and windows!

Volunteer Mark..helping us classify doors and windows in the restore.

Volunteer Mark..helping us classify doors and windows in the restore.

The Habitat Restore where the group has been working on Tuesday morning.

The Habitat Restore where the group has been working on Tuesday morning.