(Delmarvanow.com) -- A group of college students from Western Kentucky University traveled 14 hours from Bowling Green, Kentucky, and gave up a week of their winter break to help build a Habitat for Humanity house in Accomack County.
The group of nine arrived on Sunday, Dec. 10, and worked through Friday on the house, located on Shore Main Drive in Bloxom.
On Thursday, the house's future owner, Rhashedia Brown, was hard at work, painting trim, alongside the student volunteers. Habitat for Humanity requires home purchasers to put in "sweat equity" to help build their houses.
"I'm so excited," said Brown, who grew up in Parksley, of the prospect of owning her own home.
"What I like about it is it's interest free," she said of the purchase arrangement, in which Habitat for Humanity sells the houses to its clients with a 25-year, interest-free mortgage.
That makes the monthly payment affordable, she said.
"We pay the interest on the mortgage," said the Rev. Wayne Parsley, president of the local Habitat chapter's board of directors.
The three-bedroom house in Bloxom is the 46th house the chapter has built in the 29 years since it was founded, Parsley said.
It cost $65,000 for materials and another $15,000 or so to pay for the land and other necessities, including water and septic.
The labor is done by volunteers, including the future homeowners.
The group from Kentucky is somewhat unusual in that they come from a campus Habitat chapter.
Since it was started in 2003, the Western Kentucky University chapter has participated in nearly 50 builds in 29 states, including in California, Alaska and Hawaii.
It was the seventh volunteer trip with Habitat for Humanity for recent Western Kentucky University graduate Adam Byrd, who was manning the saw Thursday.
"It has been one of the best trips I've ever been on. I'm so thankful to be with this group, and I couldn't ask for anything more," said Byrd.
Bryan Reaka has been the faculty adviser for the Western Kentucky University Habitat for Humanity chapter since its beginning.
"As we go across the country, we do different trips throughout the year, and the group and the partner family are what really make it happen — whether the people get along — and we definitely have that," said Reaka, calling it an "amazing" experience to be able to work alongside with the future homeowner.
The Habitat chapter at Western Kentucky is one of around 700 campus chapters in the United States, along with about 120 campus chapters abroad, Reaka said.
"One week can change a life — that's the mantra of Collegiate Challenge. The students come in thinking that they are going to change the partner family's life, and that's definitely an impact — but the lives that they change are their own. They soften their heart; they understand themselves better; they come back more confident — and that's really what it's about," he said.