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Ohio University honors students volunteer with Habitat for Humanity

May 11, 2006
By Liz Leitch

Student volunteers from Ohio University's Honors Tutorial College staffed the building site of Habitat for Humanity's 20th home in Athens County as a part of the Honors College Volunteer Weekend, April 28-30.

Photos by Eric Kayne"I really wanted to get students away from campus and into the community," said Ohio University senior Brian Dearing, president of the Honors College Advisory Council, who coordinated the weekend with Habitat for Humanity. "This was a chance to give students a taste of diversity where they live." 

Nearly 40 students volunteered for the 30 volunteer spots. "There were so many Honors Tutorial student volunteers, that we had to have some sign up for other weekends," said Ann Charles Watts, executive director of Athens County Habitat for Humanity. "It's truly special when students get involved in our builds and integrate themselves into this special community we share."

The 20th Habitat home, located in The Plains, Ohio, is being built for the Brigante family.  Robin Brigante is an Ohio University 2005 alumna who was rendered paraplegic after a car accident in fall 2004. Twenty Ohio University students developed the floor plans under the leadership of Associate Professor David Matthews. The home is sponsored in part by the Ohio University Coalition of Athens County Habitat for Humanity. Ground was broken for the house in March and is scheduled to be occupied by June 30. 

"This weekend was a great extension of our Freshman Seminar because this year's topic was poverty with an emphasis on the Appalachian region," said Ann Fidler, dean of the Honors Tutorial College, who was at the build site during the weekend. 

Dear Ohio University community, 

I am writing to you during this really exciting time for Athens County Habitat for Humanity (ACHFH) to share with you our story and seekyour support.

On March 9, ground was broken on W. Fourth Street in The Plains, Ohio. We are especially proud to be involved in this build to create a home for an alumna, Robin Brigante, '05. She was rendered paraplegic after a car accident in fall 2004 and has shown incredible strength as she earned her Bachelor of Specialized Studies. Brigante and her 20-year-old son, Treavis Poynter are scheduled to occupy the new home by June 30.

Habitat for Humanity is not just about building houses. It is also about building community and improving lives. Without the numerousvolunteers and affiliate members of the ACHFH, families in need would not otherwise have a safe, healthy, and affordable place to live. We are exceedingly grateful for our current volunteers. We need active volunteers to help families in Athens County.


Another goal of Dearing's was to provide an opportunity for Honors Tutorial College students to socially meet alumni, like Executive Director Ann Charles Watts who is a 1999 graduate of the Honors Tutorial College. "The experience is enriching for all; students, alumni and community members," he said. 

"I thought we put in a really good weekend. When we left on Sunday, the floor was done so they should be putting up the walls soon," Dearing said. "I hope to work with Habitat for Humanity again soon. It is a worthwhile organization that has a lot of fun." 

Volunteer opportunities are available at the 20th Habitat house on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Volunteers can have skill levels ranging from novice to expert.  Individuals and groups who are interested in volunteering can contact Athens County Habitat for Humanity by e-mailing volunteer@athenshabitat.org or calling (740) 592-0032.

Each Habitat for Humanity home is sold to a family in need at no profit and at no interest. The cost of the home is then repaid by a no-interest mortgage over a fixed period of time. These payments are then recycled to build more houses in Athens County. Homes have been built in Athens, Coolville, Amesville, Nelsonville, Sharpsburg and Glouster. Nineteen homes have been built in Athens County since 1990.

Habitat for Humanity is an ecumenical, nonprofit organization whose goal is to eliminate substandard housing by working in partnership with families to build safe, decent and affordable homes. Costs are kept low by using as much volunteer labor and donated materials as possible. To select future Habitat homeowners, Habitat reviews an applicant family's need for a home, ability to repay a no-interest mortgage and willingness to partner with Habitat. The selected families are required to contribute hundreds of hours of "sweat equity" on their homes, by working side-by-side with Habitat volunteers on building-related projects such as construction and fund raising.

Liz Leitch is a student writer with University Communications and Marketing.


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Published: May 11, 2006 12:00:00 AM
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