Student Habitat for Humanity group plans to build and live in shacks on the SU Quad
Student Habitat for Humanity group plans to build and live in shacks on the SU QuadSeptember 26, 2008Matthew R. Snydermrsnyder@syr.edu
As Syracuse University, Home HeadQuarters and other organizations engage with the challenge of creating affordable, quality housing in the City of Syracuse, the SU/ESF Chapter of Habitat for Humanity is taking a new approach to the problem: Students will build and live in rudimentary shacks to call attention to the problem of poverty housing.
From Oct. 1-3, Habitat for Humanity will host the inaugural Shack-A-Thon at SU. During this event, 18 or more student organizations will each build a shack on the Quad. As the shacks transform from piles of donated raw materials into decorated mini-houses, members of their building teams will live inside throughout the process to emphasize the ways in which housing is substandard or inaccessible for millions of Americans below the poverty line. Once the shacks are complete, each will be donated to local nonprofit organizations as well as families to serve as children’s playhouses. The event will also serve as a fundraiser for the college and university chapter’s Habitat home build.
Throughout the Shack-A-Thon, the participating student organizations will host events to bring students to the Quad, including ultimate Frisbee, dodge ball and other tournaments. On Oct. 2, University Union Cinemas will play a free movie in Gifford Auditorium starting at 10:30 p.m. On Oct. 3 at 2 p.m., on the front steps of Hendricks Chapel, Habitat will host a public rally designed to draw attention to the need for more affordable housing. Assemblywoman Joan Christensen; Marilyn Higgins, SU vice president for community engagement and economic development; Suzanne Williams from the Syracuse affiliate of Habitat for Humanity; and representatives of the SU/ESF Habitat chapter are scheduled to speak about the challenges facing low-income residents of the Syracuse community.
Events are free and open to the public, with visitor parking in the University’s paid lots.
“Many people don’t realize the number of families living in poverty. There are families right here in Syracuse that need our help,” says chapter president Brian Spendley, an SU senior. “This event is much more than a whimsical student activity; it?s a call to action for everyone in our community and a chance to bring about awareness of the problem.”
Spendley and the other leaders of the SU/ESF Habitat chapter have personally raised more than $30,000 in donations over the past several months to support the chapter’s Habitat house build, which is currently underway at 619 Tully St. The participating student organizations will also use Shack-A-Thon to kick off individual fundraisers to support the Tully Street build.
Located in the heart of the Near Westside Initiative, the Tully Street build is being sponsored and built by SU/ESF Habitat for Humanity. Construction is by community volunteers and SU students. While the wall construction is complete and the concrete for the foundation has been poured, Habitat must secure additional funds from the Shack-A-Thon to continue building. For more information or to support the Shack-A-Thon, contact executive board member Mary Marolla at firstname.lastname@example.org.
About SU/ESF Habitat for Humanity
The SU/ESF chapter of Habitat for Humanity has been in existence since 1991. The non-denominational organization works with students and with the local Syracuse Habitat affiliate to help eliminate sub-standard housing in Syracuse. SU/ESF Habitat participants also travel across the country on alternative spring break trips, where students are sent to build homes for families in the Southeastern United States. The SU/ESF chapter has previously been recognized as one of the top five campus chapters in the United States for its support of the local affiliate, spring break work and advocacy programming.