Ever hammered your thumb instead of a nail? Ever sawed and sanded wood till your fingers hurt? Ever given a family a safe and affordable place to live?

Well if you’re a student in UR’s chapter of Habitat for Humanity, these things may be regular occurrences. Over the past two months, the students involved in this group have dedicated their weekends to help build the foundation of a brand-new house on 171 Whitney Street in Rochester. This past weekend marked the Wall Raising Ceremony, in which one of the first walls of the house was raised. Members of the community, as well as Dean of Students Matthew Burns, Rochester Center for Community Development director Glenn Cerosaletti and many UR students, looked on and celebrated the first step toward the completion of the one-story house it will eventually become.

These last two months of labor and the resulting wall would not have been possible without a lengthy and arduous fundraising process. The group reached their goal last semester to raise $10,000 to co-sponsor a house in the Rochester community with Flower City Habitat, the Rochester affiliate of the nonprofit housing ministry of Habitat for Humanity. The members of the organization independently raised this money through a myriad of fundraisers, which included Goody Glass Sale, Gingerbread House building contests, Row for Humanity and selling T-shirts.

‘A lot of people put effort into raising this money,” President and junior Brittany Davis said. ‘It definitely shows a sense of commitment at UR and its nice to see the University help out the community.”

The fulfillment of these fundraising goals is especially impressive because it is leading to new opportunities and initiatives.

‘We have never co-sponsored a house before, so this is a milestone for us,” Davis said.

‘It took us approximately five years to accomplish it but we were able to do it.”
In the months to come, members will be able to spearhead many of the crucial aspects of building the house, from designing the outdoor landscape, to insulating walls, putting shingles on the roof, building a porch and even digging up the beginnings of a basement.

‘My hammering skills have already developed exponentially,” junior club member Kate Haywood said.

All of the materials used to build the house (sinks, toilets, bathtubs and electrical equipment) have been donated from local companies, one of which is Habitat ReStores, which sells quality new and gently used building materials at a fraction of normal retail prices.

UR Habitat’s next mission is to fully sponsor a home, a feat that will require raising $75,000. Although this is a hefty sum of money, the group is already drafting plans to see it come to fruition. With a co-sponsored house already being built and these dreams of a fully sponsored home looking more and more possible, UR’s Habitat for Humanity is evidently reaching new heights in its presence on campus, making now a great time to get involved.

Students looking for a more adventurous role within Habitat for Humanity can help build houses overseas through Habitat’s Global Village Program, an organization looking for volunteers to reach out to millions of people without adequate housing around the world.
The group meets every other Monday at 9 p.m. in Wilson Commons and builds on site during the weekends. Be sure to check it out if interested.

Healy is a member of the class of 2011.
Venkateswaran is a member of the class of 2011.

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