GOFFSTOWN — Seven young women will soon take hammers and other tools in hand as part of the Habitat for Humanity Collegiate Challenge.
The Goffstown High School students — seniors Kaila Stewart and Cassidy Lalumiere, and juniors Samantha Digilormo, Mariah Hyndman, Lindsi Niclas, Alicia Minnich and Aly LeBlanc — will spend April vacation helping to build a home for a family in need in Clearwater, Fla.
While other groups from the school have volunteered for Habitat for Humanity, this is the first trip for these women, and they are excited about the adventure and being able to help others in need.
For Niclas, of Goffstown, the meaning of the trip hits home.
"When I lived in Florida, we lost everything we had. I'll be able to help people who are in the same position so I know how it feels," she said. "The American Red Cross and FEMA helped, and people around town gave us supplies to survive. It'll be great to see the family's faces when we build them a house."
Stewart, of Dunbarton, found out about the program at the high school when she was a freshman and has wanted to start her own group. Although it is not a Goffstown High School program, some teachers have volunteered for Habitat and discussed it in class.
"It's a yearly tradition for the senior class to help Habitat for Humanity. This year, I started it and the seniors didn't want to so I asked some juniors to get involved. We're also the only all-girl group that's going down there," she said. "Usually, they help single mothers or families who have suffered through devastation, either storms or financially. Some of these people have lost their homes years ago. Without groups signing up, Habitat for Humanity wouldn't be able to help them."
The women will be leaving the Thursday before vacation, and Principal Frank McBride is excusing them from school for two days. They will be staying in a beach house owned by Habitat for Humanity and will help build a house nearby. With help from a Habitat for Humanity crew, they will build a shell and a roof, but only some of the women will be allowed to handle power tools because of a requirement they be 18 or older.
Most of them have had experience building projects with their parents: LeBlanc helped her father build doors on their family's shed; Stewart helped build a roof and a shed; Lalumiere helped build a deck; and Niclas' father, who builds houses, taught Lindsi to use a hammer and power tools when she was 8 years old.
"I haven't done anything like that, but I'm a passionate person. I'll get the work done," said Samantha Digilormo of Goffstown.
The women are eager to begin their trip. "I'm really excited to go. I've never done anything like giving back and we'll be graduating soon. It'll be a good project to leave Goffstown High School with," said Lalumiere of Dunbarton.
For LeBlanc, it will be an extension of her community service in Nicaragua, where she spent the summer of her freshman year and will return this summer.
"We went for nine days and we painted this Women In Action building and we planted crops," said LeBlanc of Goffstown. "It's a really good experience. You learn different skills and meet other people and see how other people live."
Stewart has visited Disney World, but "that's the complete opposite" from where they're headed in April, she said.
The women need to raise $5,500 for airfare, food, room and board, van rental and gas, including paying a $1,200 fee toward materials.
"A lot of people don't realize they have to help pay to build the house," said Debbie Digilormo, the group's chaperone for the trip.
The fee depends on where the homes are located; in some areas the fee is $2,000, she said.
To raise money, the women will host a pancake breakfast at Applebee's Neighborhood Grill, 581 Second St., Manchester, on Saturday, March 15, from 8 to 10 a.m. Breakfast includes unlimited pancakes, sausage, eggs, coffee, tea, apple juice, orange juice, milk and chocolate milk.
Tickets cost $8 each or two for $15. Tickets may be purchased in advance by calling Debbie Digilormo at 660-1597, or at the door on March 15.
The group has raised about $1,500 at a silent auction and will also hold a yard sale in early April.