The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

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Students help out with Habitat project

SMU students donned their hard hats and tool belts this weekend to kick off the fifth annual Building off the Boulevard. Sponsored by Habitat for Humanity and the Highland Park United Methodist Church, the event began Feb. 17 and runs until March 4.

Volunteers from both SMU and the church will work during the three weekends set aside for construction. The homes are located in the Fair Park area of Dallas.

Habitat for Humanity committee member Whitney Bartels estimated that four different SMU volunteer groups were scheduled to work each day, along with many volunteers from the church. Whitney Harding, president of the SMU Habitat for Humanity, also spoke about the variety of Greek organizations and student groups committed to volunteering.

“We’re taking volunteers for any of the Saturday or Sunday mornings and afternoons. No experience is necessary and there is a job for everyone. We will teach everyone a task,” said Jane Parker, a volunteer coordinator for the church,

“[Sunday] we mostly worked on the roofs of the houses. They taught us how to perform certain tasks such as handling a nail gun and using a saw,” said Bartels.

The two homes are financially sponsored by the Sparks family, who are members of the church, said Parker. They donated the funds in honor of their daughter Lauren, who will graduate from SMU in May.

The event grew out of the church’s commitment to local missions and a desire to further involve the SMU community with their work. Church members had begun working with Habitat for Humanity in 1996. Their work eventually led to the creation of what is now their Carpenters for Christ committee.

After the construction of five homes, the church made the commitment to fund and build 100 houses in the Dallas area. Those constructed in this year’s Building off the Boulevard are number 47 and 48.

The families who receive the homes are chosen by the Dallas Habitat for Humanity. “Those selected have to put in 400 hours [of work] with Habitat as their down payment,” said Parker. Frequently, family members help in the construction of their own homes.

“The lady we were building for was there at the site,” said Bartels. “I thought the work was meaningful because I knew the direct source of my labor.”

For the first three years, Building off the Boulevard took place on campus. The homes were built at SMU and later moved to the actual home site, said Parker. “It wasn’t as cost effective and we wanted a more inner city feel to the project, so we decided to travel to the work sites,” she said.

“I know that groups like Highland Park United Methodist Church, along with Dallas Habitat are not only building homes for people who need them, but they are also helping improve communities by making Habitat communities as well as building homes in communities that are run-down,” said Harding. “Currently, we are building two homes on the same street and the first day of building it was really cool, because some of the neighbors on the street came out and started to help build.”

Students interested in volunteering can contact Harding at [email protected]. Work shifts are available for mornings, afternoons or all day.

“This is a great way to do something good outside of our normal environment,” said Harding. “We see so much of Highland Park and other areas in the general vicinity of SMU. This is a way of seeing what goes on outside our bubble.”

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