On August 26, 2017 Hurricane Harvey made landfall in Houston, Texas bringing with it record breaking rainfall and it became the costliest hurricane to ever hit the United States with an estimated $200 billion in damage. At its height, Harvey displaced more than 30,000 people in the Houston area and while rebuilding efforts have been ongoing, there is much work to do.
This program is an opportunity to give back and help Houston homeowners recover from the effects of Harvey. Participants will be spending their days working under the direction of Westcoast Connection and SBP and their AmeriCorps members in Houston on an active build site to directly help with the rebuilding efforts.
SBP is a national organization born out of the rebuilding process of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans with the goal of shrinking the time between disaster and recovery. Since 2006, SBP has directly rebuilt homes for more than 1,300 families with the help of more than 180,000 volunteers across the country. SBP has committed to supporting long-term recovery in Texas and has opened an office in Houston to conduct operations.
Help rebuild homes as part of the disaster recovery efforts after Hurricane Harvey.
The rebuilding work may include drywalling, mudding and painting, among other tasks.
Work under the guidance of SBP’s AmeriCorps volunteers and learn valuable home improvement skills.
Participants will likely get the opportunity to meet the homeowners of the homes they are working on.
While rebuilding efforts have been ongoing, there is still much work to do.
For participants on this program, we help you coordinate your flight times and greet you upon arrival in Houston. For your return flight from Houston, our leaders help you to check-in and remain in the airport until flights in designated times have departed. Depending on the number of students from the New York area we may offer a chaperoned flight home.
Participants will work with SBP on an active build site as part of the rebuilding efforts in Houston after Hurricane Harvey. The rebuilding projects may include one or more of the following tasks: drywalling, mudding, priming, painting or flooring. Participants will also likely get the opportunity to meet the homeowners of the homes they are working on.
SBP is a national organization born out of the rebuilding process of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans with the goal of shrinking the time between disaster and recovery. Since 2006, SBP has directly rebuilt homes for more than 1,300 families with the help of more than 180,000 volunteers all over the country. SBP has committed to supporting long-term recovery in Texas and has opened an office in Houston to conduct operations.
Get a taste of the college lifestyle at the University of Houston. Spend an evening bowling. Check out the Houston Space Center. Cheer on the Houston Astros at a baseball game. Enjoy a day at the beach in Galveston.
There is no better place to stay, while we work to give back, than at the University of Houston. Founded in 1927, UH is the third-largest university in Texas with nearly 43,000 students. The University of Houston’s quality accommodations are located minutes from the downtown core and within easy access to the communities we will be helping. Rooms are double occupancy with suite-style bathrooms.
At Westcoast Connection nothing else comes first. From our extensive trip planning department through our management team and our leaders, it is our single biggest priority! Safety procedures, equipment – we’ve got it covered. All Trip Leaders and Directors are certified in First Aid and CPR. We are extremely proud of our safety record and welcome all questions you may have in this area. Please see more under Safety First.
Once you are on your trip, you will have sensitive leaders that are caring, approachable and always there for you. Your Trip Director and Trip Leaders are people with incredible backgrounds including teachers, guitar players, IRONMAN triathletes, SCUBA divers, volunteers, and so much more.
Every staff member takes part in and must complete our extensive training weekends that review our philosophy and procedures to provide a well-supervised and fun-filled program.
Our Trip Directors, the individuals responsible for overseeing each itinerary, take on the roles of teachers, coaches, camp counselors, mentors, concierges and hosts. They’ve been trained to provide individual attention and create an all-inclusive family atmosphere (our EACH & EVERY philosophy). There’s a definite art to building dynamic groups, and we’ve worked hard to master it! We want you smiling on day one right through to a teary goodbye at your farewell banquet.
Our leaders are non-smokers. To learn more about our staff, please visit our Summer Leaders section.
We can’t say it too many times, this is a really incredible group experience. A great dynamic starts with our secrets for group bonding. Our bag of tricks goes way beyond traditional ice breakers. Imagine people hunts, Rock, Paper, Scissors championships, Ninja tournaments, flash mobs and so much more. We work hard to get everyone moving beyond first impressions and creating an atmosphere of total acceptance. Our staff hiring and training emphasizes social safety and establishing an inclusive culture. Many of our travelers come as individuals and we have a geographically diverse enrollment with students joining us from across the U.S., Canada and internationally. This mix helps eliminate cliques at the outset and establish an open environment that benefits you. We take great care in assembling groups to create an unforgettable social experience.
Our service projects can change from one year to the next as we adjust to the needs of the local communities and the guidance of our service partners. This way, our service hours have the greatest impact and move forward the projects with the greatest priority. We also focus on service-learning throughout the process, where education and reflection are key to enriching these experiences for all.
If you come prepared with a positive attitude, you will be ready to embrace the challenges and reap the many rewards of these programs. It takes teamwork, cooperation and leadership to succeed in a service project. You are committing yourself to participate in 6 full days of physically challenging service. By giving it your all, you are sure to enjoy incredible memories. You will receive a letter of completion recognizing 36 hours of service and listing the projects you helped to complete.
Westcoast Connection is a Certifying Organization for the President’s Volunteer Service Award. The award program was developed in 2003 as a way to honor and thank U.S. citizens and residents who engage in service both domestically and abroad. Presidential recognition of what you have achieved speaks to the type of person you are and hopefully inspires others to take positive action to change the world. The award requires completing 100 hours of community service within a 12 month period. Your service hours with our program qualify towards that total to earn the award.
As you travel to new places and experience different cultures, your journey may challenge your ideas and preconceived notions. We recognize this and strive to provide an environment where you are free to question and learn. This is nurtured by our leaders’ open and non-judgmental guidance. The opportunity for growth through service learning is endless!
Of all our summer programs, community service provides the greatest opportunity to interact with the local people and culture. Being exposed to families and children who have different customs and daily realities can broaden our perspective and raise our awareness of important issues. In a multicultural world, this education can break stereotypes and help us understand the role we play as global citizens.
There really is a difference in how different summer programs operate! Motivated teens going away with qualified leaders is a given. But what sets us apart is the depth of our qualified personnel that allow us to perform with the greatest consistency at the highest level.
Your Trip Director and Trips Leaders are with you throughout your program. They have daily contact with one of our two 24-hour Communication Centers and are in regular contact with our Company Directors. Our Company Directors are the most seasoned veterans who each oversee specific programs providing support to trip staff and to assist with any situations that may arise. Our Company Directors alternate between traveling to visit programs and being reached in the office. Program visits enable us to provide ongoing support and development to our Trip Directors, allows trip staff to have a sounding board for their own progress in reaching trip goals, helps us to identify any challenging areas for improvement while it still has relevance to your summer rather than as a mention on your end-of-summer survey, and helps us to identify the future Directors from the current crop of all-star summer staff. These visits are by Company Directors along with our Regional Supervisors, who are former Trip Directors with further experience out in the field. Collectively our team is an incredible resource with 420+ summers of combined teen travel experience. This way, we can lend a hand wherever and whenever a little extra effort is called for. Last year, we had 208 scheduled supervisory trip visits to make sure all was running well, provide ongoing support to our staff in the field, and have fun! This investment in depth of personnel is unrivaled in teen travel and is a critical element to achieving consistent, excellent program quality and surpassing client expectations!
Included in the trip tuition are all activities and entertainment described, breakfast & dinner daily, 7 lunches, gratuities, taxes, land transportation, accommodations, and fanatical customer service from our full-time team and summer Communication Centers. This can add up to tremendous value!
A big part of your program’s success depends on how well you eat. We are proud of the fact that year after year we are complimented for our quality, quantity and choice of food! Breakfasts on this program are served at the university cafeteria. On the days with service, lunches are either catered boxed lunches or we go to restaurants. On non-service days you eat at the University of Houston cafeteria and, on occasion, at restaurants.
We have satisfied the choosiest of eaters and gladly accommodate most special dietary requests including vegetarian, anaphylactic food allergies, lactose intolerance, celiac disease and kosher style. We welcome discussing your individual requirements with you and have extensive personal experience in this area.
On our Houston service program, you’ll travel in passenger vans that hold 7 people and are driven by our staff.
You only need to bring one week’s worth of clothing as outlined in our packing list as we have the opportunity for laundry weekly.
On our programs within the United States, we will supply the detergent and dryer sheets. Don’t worry if you’ve never done laundry before, many of our travelers have not either. We’ll walk you through the Westcoast Connection laundry lesson and in no time at all you’ll have the hang of it.
While you’re out having the summer of your life, your parents should feel like they are in on the action as well. We post updates to our blog and Facebook page and e-mail photos approximately once a week so those at home can be in on the fun. Parents also have access to our dedicated office Trip Monitors 24/7 for any questions and/or concerns. We’re as in touch as any trip operator could possibly be via smartphones with e-mail and text. The goal is uncompromising safety and peace of mind, day after day, hour by hour, minute by minute. Participants may bring their personal cell phones.
In last summer’s surveys, 98% of responding teens and parents said they would recommend us to others. We must be doing something right!