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Frostburg State University’s AST Sisters Join Habitat Blitz Build
06/10/2016

Jen Schofield
Jen Schofield
Mairade Ronning
Mairade Ronning

The women of Frostburg State University’s chapter of Alpha Sigma Tau aren’t afraid to roll up their sleeves and get dirty, at least not for a noble cause. On a Saturday morning in early May, a group of AST sisters joined Allegany County Habitat for Humanity to help build a house for a family in need in Cumberland, Md.

“At the registration table, they were telling us some of the guys were worried that sorority girls can’t paint,” said junior health sciences major Jen Schofield, an AST sister. She smiled at the roller in her hand, slick with white primer. “Most of us have done this before.”

The build was Schofield’s second Habitat experience as an AST sister, but since childhood, she and her family have volunteered with the charity on a regular basis. She appreciated the chance to help a local family alongside her sorority sisters.

“I really like the personal connection. We’re giving someone a home, and we’re excited and having fun!” Schofield said.

AST chapters across America have served Habitat for Humanity since 2004.

“Habitat is our national service project,” explained sophomore education major and AST sister Mairade Ronning. “It’s cool to put someone’s house together and fun to work with our sisters at the same time. That someone in need will have a nice house is really cool.”

The Cumberland house overflowed with AST sisters.

“Mostly we’re doing spackling, painting, inside work,” Ronning said, pointing to muddy puddles outside from persistent rain that worked against the building schedule.

With more volunteers than paintbrushes, several sisters traveled on to nearby Cresaptown to help put the finishing touches on Habitat’s most recent project house. In Cresaptown, they showed that AST sisters don’t shy away from heavy lifting, either.

By hand, the sisters hauled and mixed 28 bags of concrete – weighing nearly 100 pounds each – and poured a new concrete sidewalk, according to Doug McKenzie, project manager for FSU’s Physical Plant Department and president of Allegany County Habitat for Humanity.

Unlike previous local projects, the Cumberland house was a “Blitz Build.” Instead of a months- or years-long construction schedule, the organization planned to build and dedicate a house in just one week, although bad weather extended that time a little. That lofty goal required McKenzie to coordinate more than 160 volunteer tradespeople and other helpers.

About 20 Frostburg students joined dozens of individuals and volunteers from area businesses, churches and organizations, including American Woodmark Corp., Allegany County Public Schools, RH Lapp HVAC, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers and many others.

Despite delays caused by the rain, McKenzie and his legions of volunteers kept working, and the Cumberland house was dedicated to its new owners on May 30, less than a month after the kickoff. Volunteers continued putting finishing touches on the exterior into June, including pouring a patio and sidewalk and completing the landscaping.

McKenzie thanked all of Habitat for Humanity’s financial supporters. On top of donated construction materials, the organization requires roughly $80,000 per home to install infrastructure, rent heavy construction equipment and provide the remaining materials to finish the home.

One major financial supporter was the DelFest Foundation. Del McCoury, the festival’s namesake, was on hand to play during the Blitz Build kickoff and the house dedication. McCoury and his band also volunteered during the build itself, trading their musical instruments for implements of construction.

The family receiving the home will pay for it through an affordable, interest-free mortgage. They will also provide “sweat equity,” helping Habitat for Humanity to fundraise for and build future homes. When the family arrives at their next build site, they will likely find another group of Frostburg AST sisters all ready to get their hands dirty.

For more information on Greek Life at FSU, visit involvement.frostburg.edu/sci/student-activities-greek-life. For information on Allegany County’s chapter of Habitat for Humanity, visit www.alleganycountyhfh.org

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For further information on this release, contact:

Office of News and Media Services
Frostburg State University
101 Braddock Road
Frostburg, MD  21532-2303

Telephone: 301-687-3171
Fax: 301-687-7589
E-mail: news@frostburg.edu