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Students Build Community with Habitat for Humanity
8/16/2013

Students Build Community with Habitat for Humanity​Working outside in sweltering summer heat with sawdust stinging your eyes is not a recipe for a fun time. Senior chemistry major and pre-med student Yussr Ibrahim says otherwise. Ibrahim, along with nearly 20 other University of St. Thomas students and faculty advisor, Dr. Elmer Ledesma, helped construct a home with Habitat for Humanity in northwest Houston on July 27, and had fun while doing it.

This was the first build for UST’s Habitat for Humanity club since its inception by Ibrahim, the club president.

“I wanted to start a club on campus that was focused on volunteering,” Ibrahim said. “I saw a lot of clubs on campus, and am part of several clubs that are designed for one major, so I thought, why not start a club for anyone who is passionate about volunteering and help them give back to the community?”

Habitat for Humanity is a nonprofit, Christian housing ministry that believes that every man, woman and child should have a decent, safe and affordable place to live. Volunteers build and repair houses all over the world using volunteer labor and donations that partner families purchase through no-profit, no-interest mortgage loans or innovative financing methods.

 This mission is what attracted senior pre-pharmacy and biology major, and club secretary, Jennifer Le to Habitat for Humanity to begin with.

“I know that Habitat for Humanity does so much for deserving families, and it is fulfilling to be a part of an organization that is always giving,” Le said. “I know it is my responsibility as a human being to help others whenever possible, and Habitat gives me the opportunity to help in ways that I cannot achieve by myself.”

On the day of the build, students installed roof trusses and hurricane clips. They worked as a team, some on ladders hammering, others holding those ladders in place and still some transporting equipment. Though this was a new experience for many of the students, their sense of accomplishment quickly eclipsed their initial concerns that they did not have construction experience.

The club has plans to grow in the coming year. They hope to raise $5,000 by October to partially sponsor a house, but their long term goal is to raise $60,000 to sponsor an entire home.

Ledesma, assistant professor of chemistry, said he thinks the club will make real improvements in the community.

“I think we are off to a good start.” Ledesma said. “It is fun being involved in the build, and I think the students are going to get a sense that their involvement - donating their time and talents - are getting things done.”

The Habitat Humanity club is scheduled for a second build on Sept. 28. They welcome anyone who is interested in volunteer opportunities and encourage students to give back to the community. To get involved sign up during club fair on Aug. 22 or visit facebook.com/ust.hfh.

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The University of St. Thomas, dedicated to educating leaders of faith and character, is a private institution committed to the liberal arts and to the religious, ethical and intellectual tradition of Catholic higher education. St. Thomas is Houston’s only Catholic University and was founded by the Basilian Fathers in 1947.

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