07/23/09 — New Jersey students helping build Habitat for Humanity home

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New Jersey students helping build Habitat for Humanity home

By Laura Collins
Published in News on July 23, 2009 1:46 PM

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Noelle Quanci, left, 18, Margaret Finley, 17, Jessica Gioe, 17, and Allison Gensel, 17, work together on the foundation and frame of the floor of a house built for Habitat for Humanity on Nelson Street in Mount Olive Wednesday afternoon. The teenagers are members of a Lutheran church from New Jersey who traveled to North Carolina to volunteer.

Seventeen young people from Haddonfield, N.J., are in the area this week volunteering for Habitat for Humanity of Goldsboro-Wayne.

The Summer Youth Mission Team and Pastor Wayne Zschech from The Lutheran Church of Our Savior arrived Sunday and will make the eight-hour trip back Saturday after helping construct a new home on Nelson Street in Mount Olive.

"Basically our theme this year was 'God's work, our hands,'" he said. "I hope the kids realize that the way God reaches out to meet the needs of others is through people."

Zchech said the group decided to work in the area, as they have the past several years, because this Habitat for Humanity allows youth groups younger than college age volunteer and because the churches in the area are so accommodating.

Zchech said the experience is about more than just service.

"Our big thing is to create a sense of community within the group, but also for them to get connected to God better," he said. "The time that we spend in devotions in the evening helps with that. We share at the end of every day what's the most grateful moment of my day and what's the least grateful moment of my day."

When they began working on the house, only the foundation was in place. They plan to have all the walls up and some of the sheathing done before they leave. The group also donated $2,400 to Habitat, money they raised through fundraisers.

One of the youths, Noelle Quanci, 18, is volunteering with the group for the third summer in a row. "It's a good cause and you're helping people, so why not go?" she said. "It's like vacation, but you're helping people."

"The more the better. It's a lot of fun. The first year I did it there were only five youth on that trip, then Pastor Wayne," she said. "All of a sudden it exploded inside and everyone loves it."

Nate Bennette, who's volunteering for Habitat for Humanity as part of the AmeriCorps program, said he's grateful the youth group is in town.

"First of all, we don't get a lot of volunteers. As far as the time it would take to put this up, they probably saved us tons of time."