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Students to give back to county

Katlyn Smith | Friday, March 26, 2010

 Hundreds of Notre Dame students will put on their work clothes to paint and landscape local homes in April.


The annual effort is part of Rebuilding Together — a non-profit partnership of volunteers from local businesses, government and other non-profits organizations. The project, which will take place April 17, will revitalize homes and neighborhoods across the county, the organization’s Web site said.
According to Darrell Paulsen, Campus Ministry assistant director of retreats and national programs, Rebuilding Together needs about 500 students to refurbish 25 homes in the Marquette Park area of South Bend.  
Paulsen said the need fluctuates depending on involvement from Saint Mary’s, Holy Cross and Indiana University-South Bend campuses. This year will see greater participation from Notre Dame’s athletic teams, including men’s and women’s fencing, swimming and diving, cheerleading and men’s golf.
For Paulsen, students enjoy interactions with homeowners during the one-day event.
“Students who have done this in the past love having conversations with the homeowners and seeing the great humility of having someone come into your home and work on it and also the great joy that it gives them at the end of the day,” Paulsen said.  
The week before students and non-skilled volunteers participate in the project, carpenters, plumbers and other skilled laborers make repairs at no cost to the homeowner.
According to Paulsen’s estimates, homes previously valued at $30,000 are now worth $90,000 following improvements by Rebuilding Together.
Through donations, the project collects the necessary construction tools and stores them in a warehouse provided by the City of South Bend. Notre Dame Catering will also be offering food for volunteers throughout the day.
“All students need to do is show up wearing work clothes and dress for the weather and everything else is provided,” Paulsen said.
Paulsen also recognized positive responses from homeowners.
“At the end of the day, I saw a retired gentleman, must have been in his 70’s, out watering his flowers that just got planted on a cold, sunny afternoon,” Paulsen said. “The pride that they can take in their homes after this is an amazing transformation to watch.”
Rebuilding Together selects an area to offer its assistance based on income levels, ages within the population and other available data. 
Students can sign up for the event via Campus Ministry’s Web site. The event will last from 7 a.m. until 4 p.m.