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SMC plans to rebuild homes

Katlyn Smith | Friday, April 11, 2008

In an annual effort to rehabilitate homes of low-income residents, Saint Mary’s students will volunteer in the annual Rebuilding Together project Saturday.

Over 100 Saint Mary’s students will participate in this year’s event, said Carrie Call, Director of the Office for Civic and Social Engagement.

Each April, students volunteer in the restoration of homes of the elderly, poor and disabled in the South Bend community. Saint Mary’s is sponsoring two homes owned by single elderly women on O’Brien Street this year, Call said.

Students will be divided into teams to work on outdoor and interior painting, yard work, roof repairs and cleaning.

The Rebuilding Together Program, a partnership of volunteers from local government, businesses and other organizations, has rehabilitated close to 700 homes in the South Bend area since 1989, according to the Office for Civil and Social Engagement’s Web site.

Because of the significant student turnout the past three years, the organization assigned St. Mary’s two homes this year, Call said.

In addition to providing the work force, St. Mary’s will donate new televisions, stoves, and other necessities. Financial sponsorship of the event comes from faculty and staff donations.

Currently, Saint Mary’s has raised over $1,000, Call said. The College will also provide construction tools.

Call said the project is a unique form of service.

“It’s a very direct way to give back to the local community,” she said.

Students enjoy seeing their efforts immediately benefiting someone, Call said.

Senior Sarah Patten has been involved with the project for two years. She has witnessed many positive reactions from homeowners.

“The homeowners have been overwhelmed in the past. They are really getting a more livable environment they could not have done by themselves,” Patten said.

A South Bend native herself, Patten said the project enables students to get involved in the city community.

Call also said the project has special significance for the Catholic college.

“It directly reflects Catholic social teaching,” Call said.

Last year, Saint Mary’s had a unique connection with the project. The owner of the sponsored home was the mother of a current staff member on campus.

As a result, on a personal level, the project has been highly successful in the past for the college, Call said.

Over 600 Notre Dame students will also rehabilitate twenty-one homes in South Bend, although the University will not be sponsoring a specific home, Call said.

According to Call, President Carol Ann Mooney’s husband, George Efta, a member of Rebuilding Together’s Board of Directors, first suggested the project to Call.

The Rebuilding Together program receives applications from low-income homeowners in a target neighborhood. Each home is evaluated for the essential repairs. Call said she personally reviewed each home to determine what other appliances and furniture the homeowners needed.

The event will last from 8 a.m. until 3 p.m. on Saturday.