Mon. Jan 17th, 2022

The West Chester University chapter of Habitat for Humanity, an international volunteer organization that focuses on building housing for families beneath the poverty line, received a $40,000 donation from a member of the Grove Methodist Church last Thursday to break ground for a new housing project in the West Chester area. The donation from Grove Methodist Church allowed for the first step of breaking ground, but a lot more money is required to construct a fully functional house. “Building a home costs over $100,000,” Jacquelyn Petock, a fourth-year management and marketing major said.

“All proceeds from our fundraising events go towards the house,” Petock said. “So far we have raised $6,000 towards the house fund, and we would at least like to double that or exceed it this year.”

The WCU chapter recently formed a coalition with the Unionville High School chapter of Habitat for Humanity, the Unitarian Fellowship Church of West Chester, and the Grove Methodist Church, all dedicated to raising money to begin a new housing project.

While the $40,000 donation will allow the coalition to break ground, more fundraising is necessary to complete the construction of the house, according to various Habitat for Humanity members.

Habitat for Humanity uses strict criteria to choose a family for the homes it helps build. According to the organization’s website, the homes are given to families that cannot currently afford a mortgage and therefore the homes come with a no-interest 20 year mortgage, which must be paid by the family. The criteria also includes an assessment that the family truly needs decent living accommodations and a “sweat equity” program that requires the family to put 200-400 hours of work into the construction process.

Laura Keyser, a third-year History Education major, as well as a member of the WCU chapter of Habitat for Humanity, said “Part of the agreement of the family receiving the house is that they have to put a certain number of hours of work into the house themselves. We actually get the opportunity to work side by side with the future homeowners.”

The WCU chapter uses various methods to raise funds for housing projects. “We go canning in Philadelphia and we host two spaghetti dinners every year at the Unitarian Fellowship Church.

On certain nights, we team up with local restaurants and gain proceeds from all dinners that are bought,” Mollie Force, a second-year dance and English major said.

“Some ideas for future events include a large sports competition called “Hoops for Habitat” and a “Coffee House” with live music at Sykes,” Force said.

Habitat for Humanity also teams up with other university organizations such as the Student Activities Council for fundraising and charity projects such as the annual Philly Cares Day, at which students help to renovate schools in Philadelphia.

The student members of Habitat for Humanity take an active role in construction as well as fundraising. “We participate in as many builds as we can so that our members are active in the community and actually learn how to build on site,” Petock said. “Sometimes its challenging for students to see the impact they have on the community and others, but when our members are done, they have a house to show. To be able to have their own home and celebrate holidays in their own home is a very big deal to these families.”

The organization is split into different committees that take charge of various projects such as organizing fundraising dinners and canning trips, according to Keyser.

All student members also sign up for “build dates” which allow them to participate in the construction of a home that is sponsored by the organization.

Habitat for Humanity meets every Wednesday night at 8:30 in Sykes Student Union.

Shane Madden is a fourth-year History major with a minor in Journalism. He can be reached at SM590676@wcupa.edu

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