By Brooke Schultz
In one week, Taylor Frey helped build a house from a “concrete slab up to the shingles.” That was four years ago, during Frey’s first Habitat for Humanity trip during his spring break as a college freshman.
Now, as a senior Frey is beginning his two-year position as U.S. Council Youth Representative for Habitat for Humanity International.
Looking back on that first trip, Frey recalled a conversation with the family who was receiving the home. “I remember talking to the partner family and them telling our group how much it meant to them to have a place to live in a safe community where they could raise their kids. I think that’s when I really got passionate about Habitat because you saw the direct impact you had.”
Frey now has the opportunity to do this on a larger scale. A colleague Frey had met at the Habitat Youth Leader’s Conference alerted him to the opportunity to fill the U.S. Council Youth Representative position, and Frey was quick to submit the required information. Not long after, he was offered the position.
“I think he will adapt marvelously to his new role and will definitely enjoy being in a role that commands more influence than being a VP of a college club. I have no doubt that he’s loving it so far,” WC Habitat Chapter Presdient Erika Koontz said.
In his new role, Frey will be representing hundreds of thousands of youth and collegiate volunteers that “work with Habitat day in and day out,” he said.
“I’ve learned how to do that at WC and I hope to do that at Habitat for Humanity.”
Frey joined Washington College’s Habitat chapter his freshman year after he was prompted by some friends. During his spring break, he traveled to Columbus, Ga. to build a home.
“I just loved it,” he said. “I loved working directly with the members of the community that you were building a house for and seeing the big difference in their life. And also seeing the difference you make in the community when you empower somebody and give them an affordable house.”
Since that first trip, Frey has been involved in every spring trip program during his time at WC and has participated in fall break trips as well as work-days for the student organization.
At WC, he’s held several different positions within the club. He took the first ever position as communication outreach director during the end of his freshman year and later became one of the co-vice presidents. “I’ve basically worked on everything-Habitat at WC and I’ve been blessed to work with amazing teams,” he said.
Koontz said that Frey was extremely driven in all the aspects of community service.
“He volunteered for many duties in addition to the ones I assigned and completed them thoroughly and often did more than originally asked, which was awesome,” Koontz said. “He especially was notable when he stepped up to the plate to mentor Katie Arnold, the director of communications and outreach, and taught her what he knew about the role in order to guarantee her success.”
Frey said that his work with WC’s Habitat chapter was a “foot in the door” for him, but “the most directly relatable experience was actually my experience as Student Government Association’s president,” he said. During his term as SGA president, he worked on plenty of service initiatives at WC .
“The really key piece in being a youth or collegiate representative in a nonprofit is trying to make sure that the folks, like college students at WC, are really heard and understood,” he said. “There’s such a different age-gap and perspective-gap between somebody who is in college and somebody who is senior leadership of an organization.”
Frey said that he found meeting those challenges to be important.
“Our generation does things differently,” he said. “We want direct outreach, we like working with the people that we’re making an impact for, we like knowing where our money goes really specifically. We have a different lifestyle; we have debt. So we’re very different than our previous generations. That’s why it’s really important to have youth representatives.”
Frey’s interest in nonprofits doesn’t end with his term as the Habitat Youth Representative.
“I really like programs in government and nonprofit that directly affect people,” he said. As an intern at the White House, Frey had the chance to work on the My Brother’s Keeper program, which uses the White House’s resources to mentor youth in low-income communities. He said he wants to continue work like this after graduation.
“I don’t know what that will look like,” he said, “but I’ll definitely look for a job in local government or nonprofit, if at all possible.”
For now, Frey is in his last year at WC and he said he isn’t too worried about balancing this new position with his work at school. He plans to create a good schedule and make some quick trips down to Atlanta to visit the Habitat headquarters.
“It always takes a little bit of finessing,” he said. “I also want to make sure I can complete my thesis and have a fun senior year as well.”