Habitat for Humanity
Home Sweet Home!
Rensselaer students helped to make a dream come true for Jeanette Alejandro, a mother of three who works at Rensselaer. In April, the Rensselaer Chapter of Habitat for Humanity dedicated the house they built at 84 Eleventh St. in Troy.
“This house demonstrates the tremendous community spirit of Rensselaer students,” says Cynthia Smith, assistant dean in the Office of the First-Year Experience.
The dedication capped an effort that began long before volunteers took up tools for this house, according to Ryan DeMuth ’06, Rensselaer’s Habitat chapter president. In 2001, Rensselaer students first set the goal of building a house and began to plan, raise money, and seek an appropriate lot close to the school. By April 2003, the chapter broke ground and construction started last August. Since then, an average of 10 Rensselaer student volunteers worked to build the house every Saturday.
“Construction has been a challenge,” says DeMuth, a sophomore engineering major. “None of us has built a house before from start to finish, so we had to learn a lot along the way. Now we want to apply this experience to our next house. The chapter goal is to build one house every school year.”
“Students lead busy lives, but they have a strong sense of duty to give back and to commit their energies to progress. When you work on a house, you can see something great take shape,” says Barbara Nelson ’80, project manager in Rensselaer’s Office of Campus Planning and Facilities Design.
“Rensselaer is a leader among the handful of Northeastern Habitat campus chapters who have taken on the responsibility to solely sponsor and build an entire house,” says Lisa Marie Nickerson, the Habitat Northeast campus chapters and youth programs manager.
“I never thought I’d be standing in my own home. Working with the students was my privilege. We’ve become so close, like a family,” says Alejandro, who will soon complete the 400 volunteer hours required of prospective homeowners. “I just wanted to show my kids you can do anything you want if you work for it.”
Photo: J.S. Caras/Record