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Project builds Knowledge, Hope and a Home
Project builds Knowledge, Hope and a HomeSeptember 24, 2002Nicci Brownnicbrown@syr.edu
A new project by the Syracuse University/SUNY-ESF Chapter of Habitat for Humanity aims to change lives both on and off campus. The rehabilitation of 134 Annetta St., Syracuse, will become a focal point, or “lab,” where students and faculty work, and learn, side-by-side with local residents.
Faculty advisor for the chapter, Larry Elin, says the Annetta Street project provides an excellent opportunity to combine theory with practice-something SU Vice Chancellor Deborah Freund values and promotes strongly in her academic plan. “The project brings students into close and meaningful contact with townspeople, diversity and a major social justice issue,” Elin says. “Through the house, students can apply their classroom learning to a real-life experience in which they actually make a difference. They will not only leave a lot there, in the form of the fruits of their labors, but they will also take plenty away, in the form of accomplishment and pride.”
To facilitate the house’s function as an off-campus learning lab, faculty members in disciplines ranging from sociology to urban design and journalism have discussed lesson plans that incorporate work at the site. The public affairs department at SU’s Maxwell School has already implemented a one-credit service learning class titled “Habitat for Humanity and Modern Housing Issues,” in which students complete at least 35 hours of service with Habitat and learn about Habitat as an organization and the societal issues connected with the need for affordable housing. The students will also write “reflection papers” about how their classroom learning applies and connects with their community service experience. More information about the learning programs is available by contacting chapter member Jocelyn Smith at firstname.lastname@example.org New suggestions for learning activities are also being sought.
In addition, the chapter is planning a series of forums, discussion groups and workshops concerning issues that emerge from the Annetta Street project. The first of these will feature Jennifer Daniels, M.D., Green Party candidate for Lieutenant Governor, who will speak about urban housing issues. The presentation will be open to the public and is scheduled for Oct. 15 at 7 p.m. in the Maxwell Auditorium.
The two-story, Annetta Street house was obtained through a partnership between Habitat for Humanity International and Key Bank. Construction began on Sept. 28 and was launched with a “ground blessing ceremony” Sept. 22. The ceremony, which was designed to remind those involved about the spiritual basis of the project, included an address from the SU chapter president, Kim Gugino, and a tree planting. The future owner of the home, Jimelle Richardson, was also present and spoke of both her gratitude and excitement regarding the project.
This is the first time the Syracuse University/SUNY-ESF Chapter of Habitat for Humanity has sponsored a house. The $25,000-project is being funded in part by SU’s Vision Fund, which provides grants to projects that focus on providing intellectually rich diversity experiences for students. The 2002 Vision Fund cycle was designed to support the fourth initiative of the Vice Chancellor’s Academic Plan, to enhance the intellectual climate through diversity. The SU/SUNY-ESF Chapter of Habitat for Humanity still needs donations of money and work materials to complete its project. For further information contact construction manager Paul Walsh at email@example.com