Helping hands

Jocelyn Robinson

On an unusually warm November morning, the brothers of Sigma Chi gathered in front of a half-finished house on Stubbins Street.

The house, started last August, is being built by Habitat for Humanity. For their part, the Sigma Chi’s helped with shingling the roof, insulating the outer walls and installing the doors and windows.

“I like to get out and help,” said Glasgow senior Mackay Dickerson. “It’s our chance to show it’s not just about playing and partying with the guys.”

The brothers stood around the yard, drinking juice and eating doughnuts. They listened to Marilyn King, executive director of Habitat for Humanity, give instructions about what they were going to do to get their hands dirty.

This is the second Habitat house that Sigma Chi has helped build.

Members who participated in the event last year were excited about their work, said Randy Bracey, the group’s chapter advisor.

“They’re the ones who said, ‘Let’s do it again this year,'” Bracey said.

Working with Sigma Chi last year was “a good experience for us,” King said. “They do good work, and we knew that.”

The group of about 40 brothers divided into crews and got to work. Wearing construction belts and carrying hammers, one crew scampered up to the roof, while others prepared to wrap the house in insulation.

Working alongside Sigma Chi were site supervisors, who were there for safety reasons and to make sure the projects were completed properly.

Freda Hazel, the future owner of the house, also worked with Sigma Chi.

Hazel went through the same process all other Habitat homeowners go through – 375 hours of “sweat equity.” The hands-on involvement in the construction of their own house and the houses of future homeowners is a requirement for all Habitat for Humanity homeowners.

“Habitat is a hand up, not a hand out,” King said. “People have to work for it.”

Over the sound of hammer pounding, the brothers of Sigma Chi joked with each other. They argued over what radio station to listen to and shot staple guns at each other.

“It’s hard not to have fun,” said Louisville sophomore Steve Liesinger.

Hazel and her daughters sat nearby and laughed at Sigma Chi’s jokes.

“They sure are silly,” Hazel said.

But even with the jokes, the group worked hard.

“It may not look like it, but we have gotten things accomplished,” Liesinger said.

If it weren’t for volunteers like Sigma Chi, the Habitat houses would never get built, said Jim Shanahan, a member of the Habitat for Humanity Board of Directors.

“When they’re finished, their satisfaction level is pretty high,” Shanahan said. “They’ve helped someone get a house who’s probably never had one before.”

Late in the afternoon, Sigma Chi had almost completed their tasks. A few brothers remained on the roof, trying to finish shingling one half of the roof.

“This was a great experience,” Liesinger said.

Hazel said that most of the help has been from Western students.

“I appreciate their help a lot,” she said. “They’ve got a lot of work done today.”