WMU News

Centennial Habitat house dedicated Tuesday

Sept. 22, 2004

KALAMAZOO--A year after the first nail was struck, Western Michigan University students and Kalamazoo Valley Habitat for Humanity will dedicate a new home built in honor of WMU's 2003 centennial.

The dedication will be held in conjunction with an open house from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 28, at 617 Pioneer St. in Kalamazoo. The dedication will focus on WMU students and include remarks from Brent Hepp, KVHH executive director.

"This event is the culmination of efforts by the many student and community volunteers who helped make the dream of home ownership a reality for yet another Kalamazoo family," says Lynn Kelly-Albertson, executive director of WMU's Career and Student Employment Services and chairperson of the WMU Student Centennial Committee, which sponsored the home's construction.

"Our students historically have been service oriented, and their decision to commemorate the centennial by doing a volunteer project is a reflection of their longstanding involvement with the larger community, especially organizations such as KVHH."

WMU students began "raising the roof" in the Vine Street Neighborhood in September 2003 when they teamed up with KVHH to officially kick off their joint construction project on a lot donated by Community AIDS Resource and Education Services of Southwest Michigan.

The resulting two-story, 1,100-square-foot house compliments the architecture of the Vine Neighborhood and increases Kalamazoo's stock of affordable housing.

"KVHH is very proud of the WMU students who made this project a success and very grateful for their support," says Ann Kilkuskie, KVHH development coordinator.

"Their creativity, energy and Bronco spirit have made this house a very special one."

Kilkuskie says the home's buyer is a single mother with one child. To purchase the house, she had to demonstrate a need for better housing, meet KVHH's income guidelines and demonstrate an ability to repay the no-interest mortgage KVHH provides. In addition, the new homeowner contributed volunteer "sweat equity" hours to building her house as well as other Habitat houses.

As the new home's, the WMU Student Centennial Committee raised $25,000 in sponsor gifts and in-kind donations of materials and services to support the build. The sum included gifts from WMU's Centennial Steering Committee, Habitat for Humanity Student Chapter and Alpha Tau Omega fraternity.

Former ATO President Justin DeGraaf notes that the fraternity raised nearly $16,000 of the $25,000 total through its innovative Campus Campouts in January 2003 and 2004. During these frigid fundraisers, fraternity members camped outside for 48 hours in the Michigan winter weather to draw attention to the plight of the homeless.

Some 200 volunteers contributed more than 2,000 hours of their time and talents to building the University's centennial home. About one-quarter of these volunteers were WMU students, faculty and staff.

Media contact: Jeanne Baron, 269 387-8400, jeanne.baron@wmich.edu

WMU News
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