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Habitat Chapter Plans Overseas Home Builds

A trip to the Dominican Republic in January for some people might be a way to escape the New Hampshire winter. For the student chapter of Habitat for Humanity at Keene State College, the motivation is a little different.

On January 7, nine KSC students and five staff and faculty members will travel to the town of Polo in the Dominican Republic, to build a house for a local family. The expedition is being organized as part of Habitat for Humanitys Global Village Program, which is designed to provide educational and spiritual experiences for participants within cross-cultural environments.

The immediate priority, says student co-leader and Habitat student executive Stephanie Mills, is fund-raising. The chapter is responsible for raising the money needed to buy building materials for the house. Were about $2,000 short of our $24,000 target, Mills says. The chapter is presently making appeals to local service organizations, businesses, and friends and family. Donations can be sent to KSC Global Village Project, Community Service Office, MS 3003. Checks should be made out to KSC.

The trip will be the second international experience for KSCs Habitat chapter. Last year, a group of students and faculty and staff members built a house in Costa Rica. Heather St. Pierre, Habitat student executive, explains that the Dominican Republic build will present a number of challenges for the KSC group. We have to learn to live in an environment where we cant take things like electricity and water for granted, she says.

Mills says she is looking forward to learning about a different culture and sharing some of her own. One of the great things about college is that you get to invest yourself in an organization like Habitat and extend your service to another country.

The chapter is also strengthening its international ties by raising funds to support a home build in Bapatla, India. Last year, the chapter sent funds to Cameroon to help Habitat officials there build the countrys first Habitat homes. The chapter needs to raise $1,500 to build one house, says Mills, and is working with St. James Church in Keene to collect the money.

Habitat is not just about us going out and building houses, says Mills. Its important for us to be informed about issues from around the world and to understand advocacy in general.

KSCs Habitat chapter is regarded as one of the countrys leading college student service organizations. In 2001, the chapter was selected by the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators as the New Hampshire program of the year, out of all college service groups in the state, for its contributions to local and Alternative Spring Break builds. The 2002-03 year is the 10th anniversary of the KSC chapters involvement in Alternative Spring Break.

For more information, contact Don Hayes, community services coordinator, at 2665.

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