A member of the women’s cross country and track and field teams, Dellapa served with Habitat for Humanity in both North and South Carolina this spring and became the first student-athlete to complete a service-learning ELR workbook.
Grace Dellapa ’20, a member of the women’s cross country and track and field teams, became Elon’s first student-athlete to complete a service-learning experiential learning requirement workbook through her service this spring with Habitat for Humanity in both North and South Carolina.
She completed her service working with East Cooper Habitat for Humanity in South Carolina on a spring break service trip and with Habitat for Humanity of Alamance County. While she learned about construction, installing insulation, painting, making furniture repairs and more, her greater takeaways were about herself and the mission of Habitat for Humanity.
Dellapa reflected that her service gave her “experiences to gain more skill sets and made me more aware of and interested in issues of social justice. This new perspective has changed how I see the world and my role in it.”
She saw how being a student-athlete, with her strength-training and teamwork skills, helped with construction. “I learned that construction consists of a lot of hands on problem solving, good communication skills, physical strength, and collaboration,” Dellapa said.
Dellapa had a chance to serve with some of the homeowners and discovered the process to qualify for Habitat homeownership, learned about the need for affordable housing and saw how volunteers further the work of Habitat. She realized that “even if some of the tasks were minor, like painting the side of a house, they were one less thing others had to finish. The little things really do add up.”
When asked about her time with Habitat, Dellapa said it exceeded her expectations. She was surprised at how much she was able to accomplish in her more than 40 hours of service. “I would do this again in a heartbeat and would recommend this experience to other student-athletes. The group I worked with was able to make a big difference,” she said.
Engaging student-athletes with the service-learning experiential learning requirement is part of a larger effort of Elon Athletics’ new partnership with the Kernodle Center for Service Learning and Community Engagement. Molly McInerney, student services coordinator for Elon Athletics, and Sarah Williams, program coordinator for the Kernodle Center, are managing an NCAA grant that is focused in part on increasing student-athlete involvement in service, providing education around social issues and community engagement, and expanding involvement in the service-learning experiential learning requirement.
Student-athletes wishing to learn more about engaging with the community can reach out to Molly McInerney.