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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    UA Habitat for Humanity seeks summer help

    Like many UA clubs over the summer, Wildcat Habitat for Humanity is faced with a dwindling membership as many students leave during the summer intersession, and the membership woes come at a bad time.

    Arizona’s chapter is struggling to expand its efforts into Nogales, Mexico, by helping other chapters build houses for families who couldn’t otherwise afford it.

    Former Wildcat Habitat president Ava Bivens, an interdisciplinary studies senior, is running the club over the summer with many officers out of town. She said one of the biggest challenges is planning benefit events, mostly because of the few members left in the group.

    “”Our goal this summer is to try to go down to Nogales for as many weekends as we can, but it’s a toss-up depending on whenever we have enough people to go,”” Bivens said.

    Recently, a handful of volunteers from Tucson have been getting together every Saturday with Scott Noseworthy, the volunteer coordinator for the Nogales chapter of Habitat for Humanity, to help set up the foundation for a new home.

    “”The kids from campus love it, because they get to help out and get to know the family who will live in the house,”” Noseworthy said.

    Because UA Habitat members typically volunteer at a site in town, members have been welcoming of the change of scenery in Nogales, Bivens said.

    “”Many of our members are internationally-minded and would love to volunteer in an area as far as Africa,”” she said. “”That will take a lot more fundraising and planning, so we decided to help those that are a bit closer to us right across the border.””

    Currently, the UA branch has about 10 active members, which is also the limit of members allowed on a work site, Bivens said.

    The club’s current focus is putting up more fliers and attracting more members who can go out and volunteer, she said. An overall lack of members is a problem all year long, and it intensifies during spring and winter breaks and summer vacation.

    In the past, Wildcat volunteers have helped build the foundation of houses, push piles of dirt down a hill and put chicken wire around an installation.

    “”We’re a good club, and our work is about giving Tucson families shelter and more affordable housing,”” Bivens said. “”We just need to get more people involved.””

    The median income of Arizona families with children is about $43,000 annually – one of the lowest figures in the nation – according to the Morrison Institute for Public Policy.

    Bivens said she heard about Habitat for Humanity from her mother after volunteering at the annual “”Women Build,”” an event sponsored by many chapters in which participants build a home for a select individual or family in need.

    “”I love volunteering with Habitat for Humanity because it is wonderful to see other families share in the experience of home ownership,”” she said.

    The Habitat branch in Tucson just sent its Nogales peer $40,000 as part of an annual sum aimed at promoting homebuilding in Mexico, said Michael McDonald, executive director of the Tucson branch.

    The branch is no stranger to working with its sister group at the UA, or students apart from the organization.

    Last semester, it worked closely with UA architecture students to design five modular homes in Tucson, McDonald said.

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