SJU to host first Shack-a-Thon event

Livia Paula, Features Editor

New York City is the dream destination for many people. When you watch movies that take place in the Big Apple, you usually see someone glamorously walking down fifth Avenue or going for a nice run in Central Park.

However, this luxurious lifestyle is far from the reality of many New York City citizens.

As you walk around NYC you might easily spot a homeless person attempting to keep him/herself warm while trying to sleep in horrible conditions. A subway station is often considered someone’s house.

A lot of people might feel as if they are in danger when they walk home because they could only afford living in a very dangerous area.

St. John’s University and its community are known for its Vincentian mission and for always taking a step further to help those in need.

Habitat for Humanity (HFH) is a non-profit organization that was founded in 1976 by Millard and Linda Fuller with the purpose of funding and building houses for low-income citizens.

Their main goal is to change the reality of the unfortunate citizens who can’t afford to live in a decent place, or those who don’t have a place at all to live in.

SJU has its own chapter of HFH for over 10 years as a club under Campus Ministry, and they will be hosting their first Shack-a-Thon event.

The three-day event will take place between April 30 and May 2, 2015 on the St. John’s Great Lawn.

According to Jules Fernandes, the President for the Habitat for Humanity chapter at SJU, they got the idea from other “bigger” universities, and they plan to make Shack-a-Thon a yearly event.

He said that SJU would be the first  university to host the event in NYC, and the second in the state after Syracuse.

“It is a very ambitious and a very adventurous project,” Jules said.

Fernandes and Rafael Rivera, campus minister for Vincentian Service and Justice, said that they got confirmation from various student organizations on campus, Greek life, graduate students and campus ministry.

Besides promoting student engagement while working for a good cause, they believe the event also incorporates what St. John’s really is and the Vincentian aspect of the University. On the event’s first day, five eight-by-eight feet shacks will be built throughout the day. The floor will open up at 10 a.m.

According to Rivera, anyone can register and there will be people to assist those interested in helping. At 1:30 p.m. the set-up will be ready for the opening ceremony.

Nikhat Azam, the Youth and Community Outreach coordinator and former president for the St. John’s HFH chapter, will be speaking on the opening ceremony.

The second day will be dedicated to fundraising activities and guest speakers. On the third day, they will deconstruct the shacks and at 3 p.m. they will have the closing remarks.

The organization came up with a fundraising goal of $2,000, and State Farm will match the grant, doubling the value when the goal is reached.

The funds will be sent to Habitat for Humanity NYC, where they will use the money to continue building homes for those in need.

Initiative is key in order to achieve goals, and the organization’s ultimate goal is to end homelessness, and by helping on a local level they can go on to making a bigger impact nationwide and perhaps worldwide.

“A home is only built if the community funds it,” Rivera said.