OC students work for Habitat
“Service is hott. Yes, that is hott with two t’s.” Anna McGlynn, College junior, expressed her enthusiasm for community service when asked about her participation in Lorain County’s sector of Habitat for Humanity last Saturday. Junior class president Matt Kaplan arranged the trip for 10 students to spend the day building houses and a sense of community between the College and the county.
Kaplan’s hope was to unite students while getting them immersed in the community.
“As junior class president, I want to continue to find projects that integrate students and staff into the community,” Kaplan said. “Oberlin students are very bright and worldly but we often overlook our friends and neighbors in our own backyard.”
In order to organize the event, Kaplan contacted Habitat for Humanity, who provided the students with a site and lunch. Transportation, on the other hand, was provided by the Center for Service and Learning. After posting flyers and spreading the word, the 10 positions available for students rapidly filled.
For these students Saturday, Sept. 24 consisted of clearing a basement, sweeping, vacuuming, painting, moving sheds and installing doors in two houses in different parts of Lorain.
Ellis Ballard, a College junior who had had previous experience with Habitat for Humanity through Oberlin as well as other community service organizations, admitted that students expecting to hammer may have been disappointed, but that participants also “really enjoyed themselves and were surprised.”
At one of the houses, the students worked alongside the future homeowner, which gave them a better sense of integration with the Lorain community and allowed them to directly see who would gain from their efforts.
“Perhaps the most apparent positive effect is obviously that people from very different communities got to work together through the Habitat program,” McGlynn said.
Adam Hohl, a staff member of the CSL who helped Kaplan organize the event, added that it demonstrated to the Lorain community that Oberlin students “are and want to be involved.”
Kaplan’s early initiative as class president demonstrated his interest and ability in keeping students proactive.
“As Oberlinians, we have a tremendous history in reaching out and giving back and I wanted to maintain that history,” he said.
Ballard commended Kaplan for being unrestrained by college boundaries. “It’s nice that he got outside the Oberlin community when his job is inside it,” he said.
Although Kaplan’s endeavor was on a small scale, it may have been the seed for further community service participation. According to Ballard, contributors to the project expressed interest in starting an ongoing liaison between the College and Habitat for Humanity. They would like to set up regular bi-monthly meetings and to expand the number of students who attend as opposed to limiting them to only ten.
Hohl expressed CSL’s eagerness to help students maintain community involvement as well. The organization is open to large groups, small groups, or individuals interested in reaching out to the Lorain County community.
“If everybody does a little bit of community service and puts their
part in, there is a visible difference that will be made,” he said.