Hello! My name is Allison Shea. I'm a 19 year old sophomore at St. Lawrence University, a small liberal arts school in upstate New York known for it's hockey team, tight-knit community, and crazy traditions. I'm a Communications major with a Government minor. I love to hike, sail, and cook! I want to get involved in Food Marketing, perhaps doing public relations for a franchise like Whole Foods, or editing Food and Wine magazine. I currently have a food blog with a couple dozen subscribers (check it out! allieat.wordpress.com).
I heard about Bike & Build from my freshman orientation leader last summer, who had done a similar program. She was not a B&B alumni but had heard great things abou t the program. My dad had biked across the country in 1995, when he was about 35, and talks endlessly about the incredible friendships he forged.
While I liked the idea of biking across country, I was looking for other aspects, too. Service has always been important to me. In junior high and high school I volunteered at a local animal shelter, and also worked extensively with the mentally handicapped.
At St. Lawrence, I am involved with a program called Free Will Dinners, in which we collect donated food and provide a free meal to the community once a week. I'm also involved in a similar program called Campus Kitchens, in which we take prepared dishes from the dining hall, that had not been touched or served, and again, provide a free meal to the community once a week.
The affordable housing cause is certainly a relatively new one for me. However, the more research I have done, the more I realize how practical a concern it really is. To be able to provide affordable housing would bring hundreds of families off of the streets or crammed into the homes of relatives. In the Canton area, where St. Lawrence is located, there's a serious housing crunch. The lack of job opportunities lead to most people holding "blue-collar" jobs, or seasonal jobs. St. Lawrence County has the lowest average income in New York State, just around $14,000. However, there are very few affordable housing options for this population.
The houses in the area are almost exclusively owned or rented by current undergraduates, young alumni, or campus staff and faculty. There is a definite tension between the Canton locals and St. Lawrence, considering tuition (without the financial aid myself and most others receive...) for one year is more than three times this number. We have worked hard to alleviate this tension through community service, and certainly made strides, but a lot of help would come in the form of providing more affordable housing for Canton's working low income families.
While I'm excited about many aspects of the trip, I cannot wait to meet my fellow bikers and form friendships and connections that will certainly last a lifetime. I can't think of anything that can form and maintain a friendship better than sweat.
Let me clarify. There's simply something to be said about struggling with a group towards a common goal. I think we will all come to rely upon each other a little bit for mental support and encouragement. I know myself well enough to know that I'd be more than ready to be that cheerleader for those that need me to be. While I'm sure that I will grow attached to all of the other bikers and be in no real rush to end the trip, I know that there can simply be no better feeling than reaching that final stop and screaming "WE DID IT," at the top of our lungs, although a little bit cliche.
Like most, I'm anxious about the physical aspect of the trip. I'm somewhat athletic, I exercise daily, ski regularly, and played three sports in high school. However, this is certainly a different type of commitment than forty minutes a day on an elliptical. Nevertheless I am confident that I'll make it out relatively unscathed (and hopefully, with toned legs and bod to boot!) I'm commiting an enormous amount of preparation and effort into not only the actual trip, but the months leading into it, as well.
More than anything, I cannot wait!
|Allison has currently raised $4,070.|
That's 102% of her $4,000 fundraising goal.