College students trade in books for a hammer and nail gun during spring break

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HAZARD, Ky. (WYMT) Colleges and Universities across the country are in the middle of their spring semesters which for most means it is time for Spring Break.

For students at Saint Joseph's University in Philadelphia, this week is their time to take a break from their books and studying and relax.

A group of students, as part of their campus ministry, are on their Appalachian Experience, or APEX.

"It should be a growing experience so each trip is different and so hopefully they are able to push themselves out of their comfort zone and at least take one thing. Like, you don't have to be a completely different person when you get home. Like, it might be the tiniest thing by hopefully they take a conversation or a smile or working hard on the work site and take that away and hopefully grow from that experience," said Sophie Tallarida a Senior at Saint Joseph's University.

Tallarida is on her fourth trip to the Appalachians. She has been all along the mountain chain and says that she keeps coming back because of the hospitality the people show the group.

"The hospitality is a big thing, the people are just super welcoming of our presence and they want to learn what we're doing and why we are here," said Tallarida.

There are 15 groups stretched across the mountain chain. The group in Hazard and Perry County are working with the Housing and Development Alliance, working on four houses to bring to families who need a sturdy roof over their heads.

"It's just a really cool experience every time, different states, different people," said Sean Lenahan the group's Facilitator who is on his sixth trip and is an Alumni of Saint Joseph's.

His job, while also soaking in the life of the mountains, is to make sure the students are doing works and exploring in a safe manner.

Lenahan says his reason to keep coming back, is much like Tallarida's.

"How great the people are, I think that's the coolest thing is just taking a step away from the city and hearing the stories we get to hear," said Lenahan.

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