FAYETTE, Iowa (November 28, 2007) - Upper Iowa University (UIU) has been involved with Habitat for Humanity well over five years through its annual Alternative Spring Break program (ASB). Each spring UIU students join other college students across the U.S. to participate in the actual building of Habitat for Humanity homes. As of Nov. 7, UIU added an official chapter of Habitat for Humanity to its clubs and organizations on the Fayette campus.
It is because of the original ASB affiliation that Jean Merkle, associate dean of student development and club adviser, has chosen to start a club at UIU. "There are students already in place here that understand the mission of Habitat for Humanity so makes it easy to start an organization on campus," stated Merkle. "And since it's really about volunteerism within the community, our plan is to have open meetings to also encourage faculty and staff to participate."
Merkle is already secretary of the Fayette County Chapter of Habitat for Humanity and says she plans to remain active in both. The UIU chapter will assist Fayette County in building its next annual project, which is scheduled for August, 2008. However, before any hammers are lifted, Merkle says there is a lot of pre-building work involved. "The per house cost is approximately $70,000," said Merkle. "To raise funds in the past, we have written grants, held raffles, phone-a-thons, pancake suppers, as well as received donations from private sources and churches."
The UIU chapter of Habitat for Humanity has already scheduled its first two fundraisers for Thursday, Nov. 29 from 5-8:00 p.m. at the Pizza Ranch in Oelwein and another one at the same time and location on Thursday, Dec. 6. The club will receive 10 percent of the evening sales, plus any tips club members receive for waiting tables. Free will donations will also be accepted.
Merkle says it is a misconception that Habitat homes are just given to individuals. She says persons receiving these homes actually pay a monthly low-interest, low-payment mortgage that subsequently bankrolls the next project. In addition, they must put in approximately 200 "sweat" hours on their home and an additional 50 hours on Habitat's next project.
Newly elected student officers include Co-Chair Megan Montgomery, a junior from Manchester, Iowa; Co-chair Karisa Ott, a junior from Lansing, Iowa; Secretary Shannon Stone, a senior from Lansing, and Treasurer Erin Kelley, a sophomore from Rockford, Ill.
For information about joining UIU's chapter of Habitat for Humanity, please contact Jean Merkle at 563-425-5765. For more information about Upper Iowa University and its degree programs, go to www.uiu.edu.