Rebuilding lives

The St. John’s chapter of Habitat for Humanity knows what it means to give back to the community.

This year, with the devastating earthquakes in Haiti and Chile, the organization is doing more than ever to support the global relief efforts in these countries.

Every year, Habitat for Humanity holds Act Speak Build Week, devising a theme to encompass a particular cause to support. This year’s theme is “Remember Then Rebuild,” in an effort to support the countries that have been devastated by natural disasters and to shed light on global poverty. Act Speak Build Week kicked off on Tuesday, March 16 and will run through Sunday, March 21.

“This signifies the world tragedies that are happening. Especially with the earthquake in Haiti, we wanted to educate about the world and its current conditions,” said Ludy Registre, a senior and president of Habitat’s St. John’s University chapter.

The campus chapter has organized numerous activities such as a bake sale, movie night, and a soccer game. The money fundraised will benefit Habitat for Humanity International, a Christian nonprofit organization that builds sustainable homes for poor families around the world. The group is sponsored by volunteers building the homes and donations of money and materials.

Abigail Furness, the campus minister for Vincentian Service and Justice as well as the coordinator for the University’s Habitat for Humanity chapter, has helped the organization with the events this week.

“I think the organization as a whole is hoping to gain awareness. First of all, they would like more students to know what some of the housing issues and other issues revolving around poverty are,” said Furness. “But it’s also about letting others know more about Habitat for Humanity’s mission and what they do and what they’re all about.”

Furness said she is pleased with the campus chapter’s commitment and hard work preparing for Act Build Speak Week.

“The students have done such a good job organizing everything,” she said. “There’s been so much energy around it from them and I’m just so impressed with all they do; always, and not just this week.”

Furness and Registre said they hope numerous students will become aware of Habitat’s mission and hope more people will become involved in their mission.

“We just want to get it out that there are ways that you can help even by donating your time, not even money,” said Registre.

“You can make a huge difference.”

Act Speak Build Week is one of the many service events that members of St. John’s Habitat for Humanity members participate during the year.

Most recently, the group built houses in Brooklyn. Members have also had overnight builds in Manhattan. Registre said that the builds are memorable and she enjoys them the most out of all the events the organization holds.

“My favorite is when we lay hardwood floors, I totally rock at that,” said Registre.”The builds give you an opportunity to socialize with other people that are working for the same cause and it helps us put into motion what we are advocating.”

Habitat at St. John’s has also worked alongside Publicolor as a service to the surrounding community, in Queens.

Publicolor is an organization that engages high school students to paint schools to keep them involved in productive activities. University students involved with the club mentor a student while they paint projects together.

Registre said she hopes that more students will become aware of poverty and advocate change not only around the world but also in the New York City area.

“We don’t realize that poverty is right under our noses,” she said. “When we think of poverty, we think of third world countries.”

Habitat has more than 30 campus chapters in New York state alone including Columbia, Fordham, New York University, and the City College of New York. St. John’s University is affiliated with Habitat for Humanity New York City, which supports building projects in all boroughs. For more information, visit habitat.org.