In connection with Alumni Days, the University and alumni volunteers will staff a booth at the Downtown Farmers Market, from 7 a.m. to noon Saturday the 17th, dispensing gifts to anyone in UW-Green Bay apparel. A special Habitat for Humanity alumni build on Crooks Street is planned for later in the day. Meanwhile, back at UWGB, the “Spawning Run” 5k organized by the eco-minded student chapter of the American Fisheries Society invites campus and community to explore the trails of the Cofrin Arboretum. Learn more about the run/walk.
The UWGB chapter of Habitat for Humanity is having an Alumni Build as part of Alumni Days in October. They have an extra reason to celebrate — 20 consecutive years as a college chapter. Former Dean of Enrollment Services Mike Stearney provided a glimpse of where 20 years has taken hundreds of students and the families they have served.
As UW-Green Bay celebrates its 50th Anniversary another UWGB entity is also celebrating a milestone — The UWGB Collegiate Chapter of Habitat for Humanity is in its 20th year, and with it, a special Anniversary Celebration Alumni Build is in the works.
On Saturday, October 17, in conjunction with Greater Green Bay Habitat for Humanity, UWGB Habitat alumni will work on two neighboring houses on Chicago Street in Green Bay.
Twenty-four volunteers are sought for four-hour shifts in the morning or afternoon (8 a.m. to noon and 11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.) with lunch midday provided by current members of the campus chapter.
The event provides an opportunity to reunite and reminisce, while helping the campus archivist fill in gaps on the history of the organization, and at the same time provide homes for two deserving families in Green Bay.
Looking back… on May 25, 1995, UW-Green Bay was granted campus chapter status by Habitat for Humanity International. In the two decades since, literally hundreds of UW-Green Bay students have contributed to the cause of eliminating homelessness and providing safe, decent affordable housing to deserving families — in Green Bay, throughout the United States, and around the world. For many of those students, their participation in Collegiate Challenge trips was among the most significant and memorable experiences of their college careers.
Over the course of 20 years, UWGB students participated in at least 24 winter, spring or summer break trips throughout the United States and to two foreign countries to build homes for families in need.
Destinations included affiliate hosts in the Northeast (Connecticut) the South (Mississippi, Texas, Louisiana, Florida, Alabama), the South Central U.S. (North and South Carolina, Kentucky, Missouri, Virginia). the Eastern U.S. (Pennsylvania, Connecticut) and the West (New Mexico, Arizona). Teams traveled to South Africa and to the Philippines on international trips and many students contributed Saturday hours to local home-building projects with Greater Green Bay Habitat for Humanity or volunteering at the Habitat ReStore.
Habitat builds are far from vacations. Prior to a build, students must first spend a semester conducting fundraisers to raise money to cover trip costs. Then, over winter or spring break, they travel hundreds of miles by bus or van, stay for a week in very modest housing (typically a church basement or volunteer center), share just a couple of showers/bathrooms, and spend the bulk of their “break” time laboring — framing, roofing, putting up siding, insulating, hanging drywall or painting. They return from their college break more exhausted than when they left. But almost to the last one, they say the experience was incomparable, and the satisfaction of working together to provide a deserving family a home is its own reward. So gratifying was the experience that many students participated in three or four Collegiate Challenge trips during their college years.
Organizers would appreciate securing volunteers by October 2.
Many trips through the years have been documented on the UWGB Habitat for Humanity Facebook page.
Feature by Mike Stearney, former Dean of Enrollment Services and longtime Habitat for Humanity Student Adviser
Also honored at the May 15 awards program on the eve of commencement will be two student organizations. Campus Kitchen of UW-Green Bay will receive Student Organization of the Year honors, and Habitat for Humanity’s Philippines Trip will receive recognition for Student Organization Service Project of the Year.
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You’re invited — The University Leadership Awards program takes place at 6 p.m. Friday, May 15, in the University Theatre, with a reception to follow in the University Union Phoenix Room. At past events, both student honorees and their families have expressed great appreciation to those faculty or staff members able to attend. If you are interested in attending, please RSVP by Friday, May 8.
Our friends with the UW-Green Bay chapter of Habitat for Humanity inform us this is something they call “Act Speak Build Week.” The weeklong series of education and advocacy is offered by chapters nationwide to increase awareness about the global need for safe, affordable housing. UWGB events for the week include a flower sale fundraiser near the Garden Café (Tuesday 4/14 and Thursday 4/16), a “Habitat for Humanity Jeopardy” program to learn more about Habitat (Wed, 4/15 6 p.m., MAC237), and a Dining to Donate fundraiser event at Applebees on East Mason Street (Thursday, 4/16 all day, with 15% of purchase donated to UWGB Habitat). Finally, look around campus for displays of doors that provide facts about global housing issues.
On Friday, we brought you a great story and photo gallery featuring 30 UW-Green Bay students who spent winter break building a Habitat for Humanity home in Taos, N.M. Dean of Enrollment Services Michael Stearney, the group’s adviser, captured the long journey, hard work and tremendous rewards of the trip in words and pictures. See the story.
Shelter is an interesting part of the history and culture of Taos, New Mexico. Just outside of town is the Taos Pueblo, the oldest continuously occupied settlement in North America. A few miles north is Earthship, a community of self-sufficient, low-impact, environmentally sustainable homes.
But at the end of a dead-end street in a quiet neighborhood at the edge of town is a modest home being constructed by Habitat for Humanity-Taos. It was here that 30 hardworking, enthusiastic UW-Green Bay students spent a week of their winter break, working on a home for Adrianna Mares and her family as part of a Habitat for Humanity Collegiate Challenge trip.
The students arrived in Taos late Sunday morning January 11, road-weary and sore, after a 24-hour bus ride that took them through five states. It only took a few deep breaths of the clear, cold mountain air to rejuvenate them, however, and they quickly donned their Green Bay Packers gear and headed out to a funky, solar-powered bar/restaurant/radio station to cheer the Packers on to a victory over Dallas.
After the game, they returned to the vacant convent at Our Lady of Guadalupe Church in downtown Taos that would be their home for the next seven days. Here, they slept in crowded rooms on air mattresses, ate meals at the nearby parish community center, shared five showers (but only one small hot water heater) and commuted daily to work on the Mares’ house.
The entire crew of 30 worked for the whole week on one house, a traditional New Mexico home constructed from adobe (mud/straw) bricks and vigas (wooden timbers, harvested locally) to support the roof. The home was nearing completion, so most of the work the students did was indoors.
Challenging was the sheer number of different tasks that needed to be learned and completed. The house was a beehive of activity every day, with crews of students up on scaffolds sanding and sealing the vigas, on the front porch cutting tile with a wet saw, inside the closets spackling and sanding drywall, in the bedrooms spreading plaster or painting walls, inside the shower and tub enclosures affixing and grouting tile, in the kitchen installing cabinetry and countertops, or outside on scaffolds, hanging gutters.
It was amazing how much 30 pairs of hands, attached to 30 young people with big hearts, can get done in a week. By the time they departed on Saturday, January 17, the house needed only some final touch ups and floor staining before it was ready to be handed over to its new owner.
A highlight of the trip was the evening that Ms. Mares and her two children, Danika and Daniel, provided the students dinner. She thanked the students for their service, and told them her amazing story; of a life of financial struggles, the hard work of raising two kids on her own, of indifferent landlords who were quick to collect the rent but slow to repair leaky roofs, and the enormous challenge of making ends meet for a family of three on a $10.00/hour job as a customer service manager at a local grocery store. She also told of the many evenings spent sitting in her backyard at night praying for this house and the stability it would bring to her and her children’s lives. It was an inspiring story of faith and resilience that deeply motivated the students.
In their limited free time, the students hiked down the Rio Grande Gorge, explored the town of Taos, sampled some authentic northern New Mexico cuisine, soaked in a natural hot spring, and went stargazing out in the desert on a spectacularly clear night. These amazing UWGB ambassadors returned home proud and inspired by what they accomplished on their weeklong service trip. As are we.
— Story and photos by Dean of Enrollment Services, Mike Stearney
UW-Green Bay students and their Habitat for Humanity adviser, Dean of Enrollment Services Michael Stearney, were interviewed Monday (Sept. 8) for a WBAY, Channel 2 news story about the campus chapter’s summer trip to the Philippines. Reporter Kristyn Allen spoke with group members about the poverty they witnessed, the building processes used and the warm welcome they received during the July build. “We worked with building foundations for concrete homes, digging into rock with metal poles,” said student Courtney May. “Things you don’t see here because they have the tools and accommodations.” Added student Stephanie Diedrich: “They were very welcoming, into their community, and we did get to spend a lot of time with them.”
Ten UW-Green Bay students and their adviser, Dean of Enrollment Services Michael Stearney, have returned from an eye-opening and life-changing trip to the Philippines, where they worked to rebuild a community ravaged by Typhoon Haiyan. The group departed in late July and joined an international coalition of college and university students as part of Habitat’s Global Village program. They witnessed poverty unlike anything they’d seen, yet hope and a community vibrancy they’ll never forget. You can read Stearney’s account of the trip, and view a photo gallery, click here.
A group of 10 UW-Green Bay students joined a multinational Habitat for Humanity Coalition this summer, embarking on a Global Village trip to the typhoon-ravaged Philippines to build both homes and lifelong memories.
After an ambitious fundraising push — all told, the group raised more than $32,000 in six months — the students and their Habitat Adviser, UW-Green Bay Dean of Enrollment Services Michael Stearney, departed for Manila July 30. Twenty-four hours, four airports, 8,000-plus air miles and 12 time zones later, they arrived. Exhausted yet excited, the students would be joined by students from four colleges and universities in Japan, as well as Filipino students from Assumption University in Manila.
After a day of rest and recovery, the trip formally began with a visit to nearly completed Habitat village in metro Manila that was similar to one the students would be working on. Each of the UW-Green Bay students was paired with a Japanese student, and each of the pairs spent the afternoon with a host family in the community, seeing their new Habitat home, playing with the children, sharing a traditional Filipino meal with them and hearing their story.
For the next five days, the students worked in Bistekville 4, a poverty housing neighborhood in Quezon City. They spent the entire week working on the second building of the project, a two-story, 12-unit row house. Once the project is complete, a dozen buildings will house about 240 families there.
The students spent the week digging holes for foundation piers, fashioning pillar supports and bases out of re-bar, and mixing and pouring concrete to set the foundation piers and pillars that will support the building. It was hard physical labor, all done manually. It was quite a sight, Stearney said, to see to see a bucket brigade of American, Japanese and Filipino college students moving concrete from one end of the work site to the other, buckets handed from one student to the next and returning down another line as fast as they were coming. The task perfectly embodied the spirit of teamwork and collaboration of this multinational college build.
The poverty the students witnessed was unlike anything they had ever seen. Still, as the days went on, they observed a small but lively micro-economy and an unexpected vibrancy within the community. The students constantly were surrounded by children, who accompanied them in and out of the community each day, coaxed them into games of tag or Frisbee when they were on break, and convinced the students to take “selfies” with their cellphones. By the end of the week, the children knew all the college students by name, and the students themselves had favorite little friends that would seek them out daily to draw, play or dance.
On the last day of the trip, the students were honored with a program thanking them for their service to the community. There were songs and speeches, accolades that left the students glowing with pride. But the best parts of the show were the performances by the children themselves. The kids, in their finest clothes, sang and danced beautifully before presenting each student team with a giant thank-you card. After taking numerous photos and offering tearful last hugs, the children accompanied the students through the community one last time, to the vans that would return them to their hotel.
It was a profoundly moving trip for the UW-Green Bay students, who experienced the warm bonds of new relationships amid the shock of poverty on a previously unimagined scale — and ultimately, the pride of being able to help.
— Story and photos by Michael Stearney