Habitat for Humanity group builds awareness

Marquette’s chapter of Habitat for Humanity’s Act! Speak! Build! Week brought a series of events to campus last week devoted to calling attention to living conditions around the globe.

It kicked off on World Habitat Day, Oct. 4, with a “sign-a-stud” fundraiser. For 25 cents, students could sign a stud that will be used in future Habitat projects.

That evening, musical groups and comedians entertained a crowd at the Weasler Auditorium. Habitat raised money through a $4 admittance charge.

Other events included a panel discussion of Milwaukee housing, a bake sale, a cardboard box “shantytown” sleep out and a writing campaign to Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett.

Cumulative proceeds from the week’s event will go toward the organization’s contribution to its State Farm matching grant, said Jay Matuska, co-president of Marquette Habitat for Humanity, in an e-mail.

“Annually, State Farm offers campus chapters like ours the opportunity to apply for matching grants,” said Matuska, a senior in the College of Business Administration.

Should Marquette Habitat’s application be approved, State Farm will make a matching donation to the chapter.

The money will be pooled and donated to the Milwaukee Habitat chapter, under which the campus group operates. The campus chapter has received the grant the past two years.

During Wednesday’s panel discussion, panelists talked about poverty and housing issues around the globe and in the Milwaukee area. Act! Build! Speak! Week’s programming was especially appropriate given Milwaukee’s recent ranking as the nation fourth poorest city.

“As young people, we have to step out and build a community,” said Mike Soika, executive director of YMCA Urban Campus.

Thursday night’s “shantytown” sleep out spread across Central Mall with a makeshift community built of old cardboard boxes. The event was designed to raise awareness of Milwaukee’s growing poverty issue.

While the Marquette Habitat group is not adding any more members currently, they are still encouraging those who are interested to come and volunteer with the local Milwaukee Chapter.

Habitat for Humanity has been in Milwaukee for 26 years, said development director Melissa Herguth.

The Milwaukee chapter recently received a federal grant to build 100 homes in the next three years. It’s a goal Herguth is excited for the group to tackle.

Special to the Tribune

Story by Erin Caughey