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On the count of three, the Fordham University student volunteers lifted the first wall on Ben and Ruth Sharp's house at 3948 Pheasant Road in Shepherd. Boards creaked and students on the ground hammered braces into place.

"You're looking at my back window," Ruth Sharp said to one of the volunteers. "Isn't that exciting?"

The group of 12 students from the New York City school were working with Thrivent Financial for Lutherans and Habitat for Humanity to build a home for the family of nine.

Monday was the volunteers' last day on the project, before they left for the Pine Ridge Reservation and then back to New York.

The work in Shepherd is part of a long road trip called Global Outreach West. The students are involved in Global Outreach, which sends volunteers to different states and countries.

"We left New York on May 22, and we drove two days out to Alamosa, Colo., where we worked at a homeless shelter," said Candice Lee, the student leader.

The students, who stayed in the lounge at American Lutheran Church on Lewis, traveled from New York in two minivans.

"We're all getting along really well," Lee said. "At least, as far as I can tell."

With Global Outreach, Lee has had the opportunity to travel to Jamaica and South Africa.

"All the trips are different, which is really great," she said. "This is the first year we're doing Habitat for Humanity. We used to work on the OTO Ranch, but that was more preservation than social justice, so we decided on Habitat for Humanity."

The work was new to many of the students.

"It was kind of hard at first because we didn't know what we were doing," said Mary Fields, a student from Connecticut. "But we picked up the little things. We've got great leadership, like Danny (Glover). He's got the hardest job."

Along with Glover, another local representative for Habitat for Humanity was community volunteer Dale Fryer, who has worked on 16 or 17 houses since he joined the organization.

"I'm trying to back out now," he said. "I'm getting too old. I'll be 83 in August."

Despite his claims of being tired, Fryer worked and joked along with the students, who kidded him back.

The students had to raise their own money for the trip.

"We fundraise through letter-writing campaigns, bake sales … any way we can raise money," Lee said. "Gas prices are high."

The group of students was varied: from freshmen to graduates, from visual arts majors to journalism students, from forearm piercings to natural curls. One thing brought them together: a passion for community service.

"I've always kind of had a background in community service," Sarah Tilotta said. "I feel when you travel and work in a community, that's really the best kind of cultural immersion. With these kind of trips, you stay in churches, people's houses, schools. You learn a lot about the community."

One way the students have learned about Montana is by visiting local attractions. The students visited the Little Bighorn battlefield, the Pictograph Caves and Lake Elmo.

"We want to experience the place as much as you can," Fields said. "So we try to pack in as much cultural stuff and sightseeing as possible."

The students only had good things to say about their work with Global Outreach.

"It gives you a good perspective on life," Tilotta said. "It's a fantastic program. It's the best thing about Fordham."

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