By Michelle Purri
From cutting wood to painting walls and building roofs — student volunteers in the College’s new chapter of Habitat for Humanity do it all in order to help the local communities that need their help the most.
Habitat for Humanity, an international nonprofit organization, partners with communities around the world to help them build a place they can call home. Habitat for Humanity’s chapter at the College became official on Feb. 8, 2017.
Kerstin Baran, a freshman biology major and president of the College’s chapter of Habitat, was motivated to bring the club to campus. After contacting the public outreach coordinator of Trenton’s Habitat for Humanity, they set up a meeting to discuss the process.
Baran worked alongside Kendall Edwards, a freshman public health major and a general member in Habitat for Humanity, to form the club.
“The first step was to see if students had an interest in being a part of the club, so we held an information session in November,” Baran said. “We had more than 40 people attend, which determined that there was a demand for this club on campus.”
Finally, Edwards and Baran joined Josh Trifs, a freshman mathematics major and the club’s treasurer, and presented in front of Student Government to propose the new club.
Now approved by SG, the College’s chapter has helped build communities in the local area of Ewing and Trenton, N.J. to contribute to the nonprofit’s overall goal of providing affordable housing to those in need, according to Baran.
Baran said the club has been a great addition to the campus because “it exposes students to the realities of poverty and gives them a chance to take action and help the community.”
With more than 80 students on their roster, members of the club are eager to expand.
“For now, (our builds) will mostly be local, but in the future I hope we will be able to travel and to volunteer with the other Habitat chapters in differents states and counties,” Edwards said.
“Habitat is like a project due a year from now that you work on little-by-little each day. It can be hard to see success in one day, and that is also what brings people back because they want to see progress and watch the house grow from the ground up.”
Kaitlyn Gallagher, a freshman nursing major, likes the club because it connects her with the local community. Gallagher wanted to get more involved both on and off campus in a positive way, and Habitat has allowed her to do that.
“The chapter can be really beneficial for the students on campus and it is a great opportunity to learn some useful skills and give back to the community,” Gallagher said.
The club is also open to partnering with other clubs on campus.
“We are excited to collaborate with the clubs on campus, and we hope to gain more members by becoming more involved on campus next semester,” Baran said.
Trifts also emphasized the importance of partnering with other clubs on campus. He added that the club “also plans on cooperating with other Habitat organizations in nearby colleges such as Princeton.
Aside from hoping to connect with other Habitat organizations and actively looking for new members, the club is still working on spreading awareness to the College community, as next semester will be its first full semester as an official club.