A dozen members of the University of Colorado Denver | Anschutz Medical Campus leadership team donned hard hats and wielded hammers, paint brushes and tape measures to help build a Habitat for Humanity home Jan. 17 in northeast Denver.
The afternoon of construction work was part of the CU in the Community campaign, which encourages faculty and staff to spend a half-day of their work week volunteering in the community. The featured partner of this year’s campaign, which continues through February, is Habitat for Humanity of Metro Denver. Before putting the leadership team to work, Habitat representative Jeanne Fischetti thanked them for the university’s involvement with Habitat projects this winter. “It means a lot to us for you to spread the word about our need for volunteers, especially during the cold winter months.”
Habitat for Humanity of Metro Denver is a home ownership program that builds and sells homes to low-income families in need of affordable shelter. The residents are required to contribute 200 hours of work on their own home and other Habitat builds.
Genia Larson, director of the Office of Outreach and Events, said the university already has enjoyed a partnership with Habitat for Humanity of Metro Denver. Students from the Experiential Learning Center frequently volunteer, and graduate students in the School of Public Affairs are regular contributors to the nonprofit. Also, a group of graduate students recently participated in a Habitat for Humanity neighborhood revitalization initiative project in northeast Denver. The students helped Habitat determine if Globeville would be the right neighborhood in which to launch the project.
“We have some nice connections to Habitat for Humanity and this (CU in the Community campaign) was a great way to build on an existing relationship,” Larson said. “Also, Habitat builds homes in Denver and Aurora, so this touches both of the communities our campuses are in.”
The leadership team, representing both campuses, painted, caulked, measured, cut and nailed siding. A family is expected to take up residence in the home by mid-March.
Vice President for Health Affairs and Vice Chancellor of the Anschutz Medical Campus Lilly Marks said providing a home for those in need is what community is all about. “It’s such a direct contribution to people’s lives,” she said. “This is a tangible way to make a difference.”
Chancellor Don Elliman said, “This is a terrific way to show we care a great deal about the community we live in.”
Larson got the idea of making Habitat for Humanity of Metro Denver this year's featured partner of CU in the Community when she chatted with Fischetti as part of the Denver Community Leadership Forum, operated by the School of Public Affairs. “Habitat really struggles in the winter to get volunteers, so this was a perfect partnership filling mutual needs,” Larson said.
A team of students from the Experiential Learning Center chose to spend the recent winter break by staying in Denver and volunteering on Habitat construction projects. Said Fischetti, “For them to stay in their community and make an impact here (when students typically choose to travel elsewhere for projects) that was real exciting for us.”