ROCHESTER — During their winter break in February, a group of McQuaid Jesuit high-school students spent their days knee-deep in mud, doing such jobs as building forms for concrete to be poured on Habitat for Humanity homes built by volunteers.
They were part of a group of students from McQuaid and Brighton High School that is building a home with Flower City Habitat for Humanity. McQuaid’s Habitat chapter and Brighton’s Habitat for Humanity Club broke ground at 721 Jay St. in November on “The Brighton Community Build” and raised the walls on the home in January.
The home will feature four bedrooms and will be occupied by Jennifer Mayers and her family. Mayers has worked alongside students and at other build sites to contribute the 450 sweat-equity hours that Habitat requires as a down payment on a home. In addition to the sweat-equity down payment, homeowners purchase Habitat homes through a zero-interest, 20- to 25-year mortgage held by Flower City Habitat for Humanity, a nondenominational Christian organization founded in 1984.
The Brighton Community Build home is the second student-led house that will be built through Flower City Habitat for Humanity. The first was built by The Harley School in April 2007, and the third is being built across the street with the help of Pittsford-Mendon High School and Get It Straight Orthodontics.
Teresa Bianchi, development and community manager for Flower City Habitat for Humanity, said the students’ effort was helped by a generous community member who had been a part of the previous school build. That community member wanted to see school collaborations continue, so he provided a dollar-for-dollar match of funds raised so that the schools were able to raise the $65,000 needed to build the home.
Bianchi said McQuaid’s Habitat chapter was started by alumnus Jeff Kemp.
“He came out on an immersion program and got ‘infectious habititus,'” Bianchi quipped.
Following that weeklong immersion, Kemp organized several other volunteers to take on Habitat fundraising as part of their senior-year capstone project at McQuaid.
The McQuaid Habitat club started in May 2009, and it was later transformed into an official campus chapter. The chapter every year sponsors a 5K fundraising Hike for Habitat; the fifth-annual hike will be from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. April 26 at McQuaid.
Nate Rogalskyj, 18, president of the McQuaid Jesuit Habitat for Humanity Chapter, said he enjoys volunteering with Habitat because of the people he gets to meet and work with.
“You get to put in work and see a lot of good things come from it,” Rogalskyj said.
He said he started volunteering with the Habitat chapter during last school year.
“We had in a previous year lost a lot of seniors, so we were in a transition period,” Rogalskyj said.
He noted that the chapter is now back up to full speed with its building, and is even looking ahead to future projects.
Yet at present, they were struggling with building outside in the middle of winter. During a work break, they huddled around steaming coffee cups.
“I like it, but I wish the weather was better,” said Patrick Ekeren of Ontario, 16, a sophomore at McQuaid.