Fairfield University student prepares to bike across U.S. to benefit affordable housing


Image: Lauren HavilandThis summer, Fairfield University junior Lauren Haviland, of Ridgewood, New Jersey, will go on a coast to coast service trip with Bike & Build, a national nonprofit committed to raising money and awareness for affordable housing. She'll ride her bicycle across the country with a team of 30 other young adults on the North Carolina to San Diego (NC2SD) route.

The journey will begin on May 13, 2014, when Haviland will report to Nags Head, N.C. Over the next 10 weeks, the NC2SD team will pedal an average of 69 miles per day to San Diego, California and the Pacific Ocean, arriving July 21. Along the way, the riders will participate in 14 volunteer build days with different affordable housing organizations like Habitat for Humanity, Rebuilding Together, and small local housing nonprofits to help build affordable homes for families in need. Riders will build in towns like Chapel Hill, N.C.; Little Rock, Arkansas; Colorado Springs, Colorado; and Prescott, Arizona, among others. They will also advocate for the need for affordable homes for all Americans in the many host communities and pass-through towns along the way.

Haviland, a student in Fairfield University's College of Arts & Sciences, majoring in psychology and Spanish, is enrolled in the University's Health Professions Program, studying occupational therapy. After graduation, she plans to become a pediatric occupational therapist helping children with special needs.

"It's unbelievable how many people are unable to afford housing right in our local communities," said Haviland, who graduated from the Academy of the Holy Angels in Demarest, N.J. "Volunteering in soup kitchens, nursing homes, special needs organizations, and at Habitat for Humanity has made me hyperaware of the need to aid those who are less fortunate." Her father, Michael Haviland, is a Fairfield graduate, Class of 1982, and her brother, Tyler Haviland, is a member of the Class of 2013.

Haviland must fundraise at least $4,500 to support the trip. Much of that money is then donated to affordable housing organizations. The 2013 NC2SD team donated $63,000; Bike & Build is confident the 2014 team will exceed that total. To support her, visit her fundraising page at http://bikeandbuild.org/rider/7318.

Those interested in donating can also mail a check to Bike & Build (write "Lauren Haviland" in the memo). The address is:

Bike & Build
6153 Ridge Ave
Philadelphia, PA 19128

"We are deeply proud of riders like Lauren who are so committed to the affordable housing cause that she is willing to raise much-needed funds and spend over two months biking across the country," said Justin Villere, Bike & Build's director of operations and outreach. "Bike & Build provides the opportunity, but it is the riders who make the lasting impact in so many communities."

The NC2SD route is one of eight cross-country trips Bike & Build offers each summer. In total, about 250 18-to-28 year old riders will see and experience first-hand the affordable housing need in this country. In addition to volunteering with construction efforts at affordable housing sites, riders also meet with local officials and community members to discuss affordable housing issues. Riders will sleep in local churches, community centers, and schools, and will rely on the generosity of hundreds of community members for food, showers, and other necessities. When the trip is complete, many Bike & Builders have gone on to continue their commitment to service through their career choices or further volunteering.

Based in Philadelphia, Bike & Build is a non-profit organization that encourages young adults to address the country's affordable housing crisis through organized bicycle trips. Trip participants support the affordable housing cause by fundraising and building efforts. Since its founding in 2003, Bike & Build has motivated over 2,000 young adult volunteers and contributed over $4.5 million and 160,000 volunteer hours to housing groups such as Habitat for Humanity and Rebuilding Together to fund projects in the United States. For more information, visit www.bikeandbuild.org or call (267) 331-8488.

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Media Contact: Meg McCaffrey, (203) 254-4000, ext. 2726, mmccaffrey@fairfield.edu

Posted on February 28, 2014

Vol. 46, No. 195