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ODU-Habitat for Humanity Home Construction Project Kicks Off

The sound of hammers and saws paused momentarily on Monday, Nov. 2 , so the Old Dominion University/Habitat for Humanity Homecoming 2009 home construction project could have its official kickoff.

Hundreds of ODU faculty, staff and students will volunteer this week with Habitat for Humanity of South Hampton Roads to construct a home at a staging location on campus, which will then be erected at a site in Lambert's Point.

On Monday, officials from Habitat joined with school officials, volunteer workers from the ODU Army ROTC and even Big Blue and some cheerleaders to celebrate ODU's campus-wide participation in the Habitat project.

"As you can see, Monarch Manor is officially under construction!" said Cecelia Tucker, ODU's assistant to the president for community relations, and Monday's master of ceremonies.

At the ceremony, the recipient of the soon-to-be-constructed home at 1522 W. 39th St., LaShawn Jones, received a hammer as a memento, and used it to knock in a nail before a ceremonial wall was raised to kick off the build.

Keshia Cadogan, a sophomore English major and president of the ODU Habitat for Humanity Club, said it's "amazing" to have a Habitat project on campus during Homecoming Week.

"I'm excited to come out here and help build!" she said.

ODU President John R. Broderick told the crowd he's pleased to see ODU students get recognition for their volunteer work.

"Our students do lots and lots of things in the community, volunteering and getting involved, and they don't get credit," Broderick said.

"We're delighted to be involved in this project. In all reality, I think the best way to do it is to get out there and help. That's really where we're going to make a difference."

According to Paul Shelton, board president of Habitat for Humanity of South Hampton Roads, "Our mission for Habitat for Humanity is to build affordable homes for low-income families who need decent housing. We're delighted to have ODU as our partner in this venture.

"When people say that young people don't care and don't volunteer, I say, 'Look around at what this project's all about.'"

Different campus groups have volunteered to supply workers for the project for four-hour blocks of time throughout Homecoming Week.

But organizers say they can always use more volunteers over the next three months of the project. Those interested in helping out are asked to contact Richard Massey, associate vice president for foundations and campus coordinator for the Habitat project at ODU, at rmassey@odu.edu.

An anonymous donor has given $35,000 in matching funds for the ODU project. Not only is this generous donor supporting this particular build, but he also puts in numerous hours on a weekly basis "swinging a hammer" at other Habitat builds, and his wife volunteers her time on Habitat's Family Support Committee.

"Sometimes it's easy to just write a check," said Helen Sommer, Habitat's executive director, "but this couple has taken ownership and truly is involved in Habitat's mission."

Founded in 1988, Habitat SHR, a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit corporation, is the local affiliate of Habitat for Humanity International. Its mission is to eliminate poverty housing and make decent housing a matter of conscience and action. Habitat provides no-profit, no-interest mortgages to qualified low-income families in Chesapeake, Norfolk, Portsmouth, Suffolk, Virginia Beach and Isle of Wight County.

Contact Habitat SHR at 640-0590, or go to www.shrhabitat.org for more information, to volunteer services or to make a financial donation.

This article was posted on: November 2, 2009

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