John Kelly is not the first name you think of when you remember the Pioneer football season, but he has done great things at Sacred Heart University. Kelly is tremendously active in the SHU community and is involved in various community service programs. One of those programs, Habitat for Humanity, has had an impact not only on those he helps, but on Kelly himself.
Habitat for Humanity International is an organization dedicated to building homes for poverty-stricken families around the world. Since its inception in 1942, Habitat for Humanity has built over 300,000 homes and repaired, renovated, or improved another 200,000.
Sacred Heart students volunteer to lift, work, and sweat during their college spring break rather than enjoy the typical getaway. That sacrifice does not bother Kelly at all. "There is nothing I enjoy more than getting a real, meaningful thank you after helping someone," he said. "Seeing how happy these families are provides a surreal feeling deep down that is unexplainable. Getting the opportunity to help others for seven days straight is my party."
Kelly has spent his last three spring breaks scattered around the country, including stops in Oak Ridge, Tennessee (2012), Avondale, Arizona (2011), and Lakeland, Florida (2010). Hardly what you would consider vacation spots, Kelly gets something more important than some time at the pool and a week without homework. "My involvement with Habitat for Humanity has broadened my cultural horizons in ways that seemed unimaginable," said Kelly. "My experience has taught me valuable lessons in gratitude as well as the sheer power of donating one's time and effort to those who need it most. Participating in these trips provides everyone with a sense of sheer selflessness and betterment."
But how did this red-shirt sophomore punter get involved in a program with such meaningful results? Simple, he knew it was right and right for him. "My entire life I have always been taught to help others, whatever the situation may be," said Kelly. "Freshman year I had gotten word of Habitat for Humanity, and joined as soon as I could. This was my calling."
Kelly's work off the field is not limited to Habitat for Humanity during his spring break. He is involved in several mentoring programs within the Bridgeport Community. Kelly helps students with homework, plays tag during recess, or just lends an attentive ear.
He is among a rare group of people. Selfless and always thinking of others, Kelly is fully aware of the impact his actions have had on his own life.
"It is experiences like these that have fully molded me into the person I am today and made my time at Sacred Heart unforgettable."
Simply put, individuals like John Kelly are the cornerstone of Sacred Heart University.