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Habitat for Humanity celebrates 16th house

SAM STRYKER | Monday, April 19, 2010

Notre Dame’s chapter of Habitat for Humanity celebrated almost a year’s worth of effort in the community at the dedication of the organizations 16th home in the South Bend area Sunday.

South Bend resident Melissa Jones and her two sons are the new occupants of the Campeau Street residence.

Nathan Marsh, volunteer coordinator of Notre Dame’s Habitat for Humanity, said turnout for the event was indicative of how important the project was for the local community.

“Melissa and here family, along with members of her church, and Notre Dame alumni and students were all there today,” he said.

Marsh said the Notre Dame chapter is unique in that it is one of the few college campus chapters that builds and completes a house every year.

“We do all the fundraising and getting materials on site,” he said. “We also see to it that contractors work on time. We walk through the whole thing as students.”

Volunteer efforts were particularly important to the success of the project, Marsh said.

“We had a fantastic turnout of kids every Saturday and Sunday, even football weekends and when it is 10 degrees outside,” he said.

Marsh also said Melissa Jones was active in the construction of the house, as per Habitat for Humanity policy.

“In addition to having two sons and a full time job, she came to work at the house every weekend,” he said.

The Jones family also had to meet other Habitat requirements in order to participate in the project.

“They actually have to go to a class about maintenance and finance for a first time homeowner,” Marsh said.

Marsh said Melissa Jones’s spiritual life was an integral aspect of the effort she put into the program.

“The faith she had throughout this project was amazing. There was a lot of work she had to put into it,” he said.

In addition to student volunteer work and the Jones’s efforts, Marsh said South Bend’s chapter of Habitat for Humanity helped in the process, from construction to selecting the Joneses for the program.

Marsh said the process of constructing the house took nearly the entire academic year.

“We started planning for it at the end of the summer. Most of our construction occurs during fall break. Over 100 students show up with Notre Dame alumni,” he said. “Once the weather warms up in the spring, we do landscaping.”

One of the special aspects of this particular Habitat for Humanity project is the site that the house was chosen for.

“Both of [the Jones’s] neighbors will live in Habitat houses,” Marsh said. “This will be great for neighborhood relationships. Part of what we work on is building community roots.”

After months of effort, Marsh said everyone involved felt a strong sense of achievement with how the project turned out and what it means for the Jones family.

“Working on it all year with Melissa, starting from a dirt lot, and celebrating the accomplishment of finishing this house which she will move in with her family is really amazing,” he said.