A Home for New Beginnings – Hobart and William Smith Colleges \
The HWS Update

A Home for New Beginnings

“New beginnings” was the theme of the recent groundbreaking for the Matuszak family’s new home, provided in collaboration by the Ontario County Habitat for Humanity and Hobart and William Smith Colleges.  Fittingly, new students to the Colleges will have the opportunity to work on the home as part of their new beginning as college students.

At the home’s groundbreaking, Associate Director of the Center for Community Engagement and Service Learning Katie Flowers bestowed upon the Matuszaks a house-warming gift and conveyed the affinity between HWS and the Geneva community. “The Colleges are so excited to collaborate with Habitat for Humanity,” she beamed. “Our students have put in countless hours of service raising money for this cause.”

On March 27, the Colleges’ President, Mark D. Gearan, assistant director of the Center for Community Engagement and Service Learning (CCESL) Sarah Entenmann, and Amanda Hawley ’11, president of HWS’ Habitat for Humanity Club signed a letter of intent providing $20,000 for building costs on behalf of the Colleges to co-sponsor a house in the Geneva community. The incoming Classes of 2013 will be taking part in “Blitz Week,” the final week of house-building, which will occur August 22 through 29 (the week before students return to campus to begin the academic year). Other students who will already be on campus will also have the opportunity to be involved with the completion of the house, reinforcing the sense of community among the Colleges and the City of Geneva.

 “Neighborhood revitalization is one of the top priorities for city government,” said Mayor of Geneva Stu Einstein at the groundbreaking ceremony. “Parts of Geneva are lacking a sense of community, so it is inspiring to see Habitat for Humanity building not just a house, but a neighborhood, piece by piece. This truly is a great new beginning and an example of how Geneva comes together.”

President of the Ontario Habitat Ken Allen thanked volunteers for helping provide safe and reliable shelter for deserving families in need. A grateful Chris Matuszak reiterated “None of this would be possible without the help of volunteers. This is truly a blessing.”

The Matuszaks will put in 400 hours of “sweat equity” for their home.  “This is an incredible opportunity for fellowship among your new community. Appreciate the pounding in of every nail,” urged their reverend, Christian Pilet at the groundbreaking.

While it is new for incoming first-year students to participate in home building before the start of Orientation, the initiative is an offshoot of the Pre-Orientation Adventure Program. The pre-orientation activities have been offered to incoming first-years for a number of years to give them the opportunity to get to know one another and to begin building a sense of community before Orientation. The original trips offered hiking, kayaking and camping in either the Adirondacks or the Finger Lakes Trail. The Habitat for Humanity project was designed as a more local service-oriented trip for the incoming Classes of 2013. It does not require that students have any previous experience with Habitat for Humanity. First-year students participating in the program will spend the week working at the building site every day. They will tentatively sleep in tents behind the Community Service House on campus and will have access to the house for preparing meals together.  Evening activities have yet to be determined.

The main goal for this program is to encourage students to become active in community service for their four years at HWS and, hopefully, for a lifetime. It is a great opportunity for incoming students to get to know their peers, the HWS campus and the local community. The hope is that students who participate in this program will be eager to build connections with the Geneva community in order to make their experiences at Hobart and William Smith Colleges as fulfilling as possible. 

Students who are interested in this program can login to the Orientation Web site and fill out the online application. Also, current HWS students who would like to apply to be leaders for this program can contact Dean Mapstone at (315) 781-3300 or mapstone@hws.edu.