WMU News

Work officially begins on centennial Habitat house

Sept. 22, 2003

KALAMAZOO -- Western Michigan University students are raising the roof this fall with help from Kalamazoo Valley Habitat for Humanity.

The students and KVHH have teamed up to build a home near campus as a way of celebrating the University's centennial. The two-story house will be built at 617 Pioneer St. on a lot donated to KVHH by CARES, Community AIDS Resource and Education Services of Southwest Michigan.

The project will officially kick off with a brief gathering for members of the campus and greater Kalamazoo communities at 3:45 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 27, at the construction site, which is adjacent to the CARES offices.

Brent Hepp, KVHH executive director, and Dr. Judith I. Bailey, WMU president, will address the gathering. Also speaking will be representatives of the centennial's student events subcommittee and Alpha Tau Omega fraternity.

Sept. 27 will be the first major build day for the WMU centennial house. It will begin at 8 a.m. with a welcome for student volunteers from the project's student co-coordinators: Ian Belanger, a senior from Traverse City, Mich., majoring in elementary education; and Alison Karwan, a graduate student from Madison Heights, Mich., pursuing a master of arts degree in counselor education with an emphasis on student affairs in higher education.

The volunteers will begin framing the home at about 8:30 a.m. and work until 3:45 p.m. Additional volunteers will work on the other major build days, all Saturdays, that have been scheduled during the fall semester: Oct. 4, Oct. 18, Nov. 1, Nov. 8 and Nov. 15.

"Kalamazoo Valley Habitat for Humanity is excited about this partnership and happy to be part of the WMU Centennial Celebration," says Ann Kilkuskie, KVHH development coordinator. "Throughout our 20-year history, we've enjoyed great support from WMU students. Western students have an impressive history of helping not only Habitat for Humanity but also many other community organizations in Kalamazoo."

The current WMU-KVHH project has a long history as well, according to student co-coordinator Belanger. "The students planning events in honor of the centennial decided more than a year and a half ago to do a service-oriented project," he says. "We wanted our commemoration to reflect students' longstanding involvement in the larger community, and working with KVHH was the clear choice."

But Belanger notes that assistance is needed from area residents if the centennial house is to be successful. "We need licensed plumbers, electricians, and mechanical contractors as well as roofers, drywallers, and other experienced people to build with us and help supervise our work," he explains. "We also need people to donate building materials, such as tools, lumber, siding and insulation, and to make monetary donations."

WMU's Panhellenic Council already has contributed $2,000 to the project while the Alpha Tau Omega fraternity has raised more than $5,000, the bulk of it during a 48-hour "Campus Camp Out" that also drew attention to the plight of the homeless. The camp out took place this past February on two of this year's coldest days, with temperatures hovering around zero degrees.

Those wishing to make donations by check may do so by writing "WMU Centennial House" on the check and making it payable to Kalamazoo Valley Habitat for Humanity. The gift should be mailed to KVHH, 525 East Kalamazoo Ave., Kalamazoo MI 49007-3811. Anyone wishing to donate building materials or to volunteer their expertise or time should contact KVHH directly by calling (269) 344-2443.

More information about WMU's "Raise the Roof" project is available online at <www.rso.wmich.edu>. For online information about KVHH, visit the organization's Web site at <www.habitatkalamazoo.org>.

Media note: For more information about the WMU centennial house or to arrange kickoff event coverage, call Ann Kilkuskie, development coordinator for Kalamazoo Valley Habitat for Humanity, (269) 344-2443 ext. 206, or Ian Belanger or Alison Karwan, student co-coordinators for the centennial house, (269) 387-2745.

Media contact: Jeanne Baron, 616 387-8400, jeanne.baron@wmich.edu

WMU News
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