XU’s Habitat for Humanity takes on major project

By: Sarris Balcerzak ~Staff Writer~

Xavier’s Habitat for Humanity embarks on a groundbreaking project on Feb. 12. Though the club is no stranger to house-building, it is the first time since 1999 that Xavier’s Habitat will fully fund a house-building project from the ground up.

The group of 350 volunteers consists of XU, Millcreek Valley Habitat and Ursuline Academy students and will start the project of building a new home together at 2129 Garfield in College Hill.

The house will become a home to a Carmen Barnett and her wheelchair-confined 5-year-old son. The goal is to have the house completed by Mother’s Day 2015.
“The house will be built to accommodate the boy, such as a ramp plus wider doors and showers,” Xavier Habitat for Humanity member Katrina Mahlerwein said. “We are excited that we can be a part of such an amazing project and can’t wait to swing the first hammer.”

“Every Habitat family has to put in 400 hours of ‘sweat’ equity,” XU Habitat board member Justin Lisena said. “This means they are helping build their own house or even helping Habitat build a house for another family. The sweat equity really allows the family to feel like the house is their own since they help at every part of the process.”

Beyond extensive volunteer work, the organization donates $16,000 to Habitat for Humanity to pay for materials. To fundraise for the sum, Xavier students participate in a Rake-a-thon and Mulch Madness.

“In the fall we have Rake-a-Thon where we offer to rake and bag the leaves at peoples’ houses in exchange for a donation to habitat for humanity. In the spring we do Mulch Madness where we spread mulch at peoples’ houses, again in exchange for a donation,” club member Brian Fallon said. “These might seem like boring fundraisers, but they are always a blast. We get to meet great people around Cincinnati and get to know our fellow club members better as well.”
Habitat for Humanity’s encouragement of service learning correlates with Xavier’s Jesuite tradition of creating men and woment for others.