Habitat lends a helping hand

Habitat for Humanity rakes leaves for the South Orange community. Photo via Instagram/habitatatshu.

The Habitat for Humanity club at Seton Hall strives to represent hope and better community relations.

“Working side by side with the future home owners shows you that your volunteering makes a difference in their lives,” said Tiffany Yacullo,
the vice president of the club and senior communication and public relations major. “We truly are turning houses to homes by our efforts.”

Habitat at SHU tries to raise awareness about the organization and inform students about the services they offer communities, which can range from raking leaves, to helping veterans, to a variety of actions through organizing fundraisers, tabling events and more.

The club participated in its first leaf raking of the year in Maplewood, N.J. on Nov. 6 and continued this initiative to help families on Nov. 12. They also worked together with the Martin Luther King Scholarship Association (MLKSA) to make care packages for homeless Veterans of America on Oct. 18.

The initiatives were meant to show that Habitat is more than just building homes, but about being a bridge between community service and organizations, said Jordan Panella, president of Habitat for Humanity and a senior marketing major with a legal studies minor.

“Habitat at SHU is broken down into awareness, being active and having an impact. The advocacy part of it is about raising awareness about the club on campus and what we do and through that, I hope to get more people to get involved with the cause,” Panella said. “The other part of this is executing Habitat for Humanity’s picture as a whole, not just on campus so we go to Newark, Paterson and other places. The ultimate goal is to help the community, but we found in the past that raising more awareness on campus correlates to the execution of our mission.”

The club has helped multiple families and worked on houses which usually have two to three families living in each. Its outreach has spread to helping families in Newark and Paterson in New Jersey, Florida and Louisiana.

“We go and do whatever they have us do like deconstruct a house, improve one, paint, heavy lifting,” Panella said. “We do it all and we work with the homeowners of that house so it’s an awesome experience.”

The members of Habitat work together to fundraise for a trip during spring break of each year. Members are chosen to go through a point system. More involvement means more points and a higher likelihood of going on the trip. The purpose of the trip is to help families or individuals who cannot afford to repair their home. In Florida, the club helped a woman whose house was hit by a drunk driver.

While members help fix homes, some have never before used a hammer or painted. They learn to get out of their comfort zones through learning how to hammer, put up a roof, paint and maneuver themselves, with some professional help, in an environment that they might not be used to.

“You’re helping to alleviate poverty in our nation, which is important considering we are living in such a fortunate country. Also, the friendships you make are genuine and deep,” Yacullo said. “The people tend to come from all social groups so it’s nice to see different people come together and create lasting friendships.”

Nisha Desai can be reached at nisha.desai@student.shu.edu.