Campus News

Club profile: Habitat for Humanity

By: Raymond Humienny ~Campus News Editor~

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Photo courtesy of Xavier Habitat for Humanity H4H co-president Emmalee Phelps and vice president Kelly Stockelman

Xavier Habitat for Humanity (H4H) will hold a “Fall Call Out” meeting at 8:00 p.m. on Sept. 14 in Albers 103 for students wishing to join.

Xavier H4H is a student- based organization under the advisory of the Dorothy Day Center for Faith and Justice. Every year, H4H is assigned a location within the Southwestern Ohio and Northern Kentucky region to help build and renovate substandard housing for the homeless.

During the past three years, H4H has helped build homes in Cumminsville, Over-the-Rhine (OTR) and the historic district of Newport, Ky. This year’s location is yet to be announced. “We go where we’re needed,” Kelly Stockelman, vice president of Xavier H4H, said. Stockelman added that this year, H4H will broaden its appeal on social media, hoping to reach out to students via Instagram, Twitter and Facebook about upcoming fundraisers and events.

According to Stockelman, the club is looking for ways to improve fundraising, increase member sign-ups and maintain student involvement. “We’re always throwing around ideas, like last year – or the year before that – we had a spaghetti dinner. It was kind of like a ‘first run’ of doing something different,” Stockelmann said.

“Another thing we’ve done in the past that’s always been talked about is this thing called Shantytown where students basically pick up materials like cardboard boxes, wooden pallets and tarps and ropes, and they build shanty-houses,” she said.

“They did (Shantytown) in the academic mall…to bring awareness to what substandard housing is and to homelessness and how bad it is especially within the Cincinnati area,” Emmalee Phelps, co-president of Xavier H4H, said. “It’s a big thing in Cincinnati. I feel like we live in this Xavier bubble, and even when you step out of it you really don’t see (homelessness). If you go to the historic district of Newport or OTR – the northern part of OTR – it’s not quality houses.”

H4H aims to better broadcast the issue of substandard housing in the Greater Cincinnati region. According to the ‘‘fact sheet” of the Greater Cincinnati Homeless Coalition webpage, it is estimated that 25,000 locals suffer annually from homelessness. The Institute for Child, Poverty & Homelessness released a study in Feb. 2015 that showed a decreasing amount of affordable rental housing for low income families.

Phelps and Stockelman both said that a sense of community is what draws them to weekly service. “One of my favorite things about Habitat, in general, is that you go because the people that are in it, so we kind of have a tight little community in it, and we love having new people there, and we love building that community and especially being around the kind of people…who are very willing to go out and better our community,” Stockelman said.

Phelps talked about the inspiration her friend’s mother has given her throughout her life, always advocating the importance of social justice and awareness. “She was my Girl Scout leader for twelve years, through kindergarten to senior year,” Phelps said. “One of her big missions was substandard housing, and every year we made a Habitat house for her, and so that’s what got me involved in Habitat … I jumped right into it my first week here at school and it’s been my passion ever since.” Xavier H4H will host weekly meetings at the aforementioned time, date and place preceeding the “Fall Call Out.”

Anyone interested in joining H4H can visit the club’s page on OrgSync or send an email to Kelly Stockelman at stockelmank@ xavier.edu or Emmalee Phelps at phelpse@xavier.edu.