Habitat at Augie faces reality of homelessness

Melida Castro

The annual event, “Shantytown,” hosted by Habitat at Augie took place in the lower quad on Oct. 24. This event is meant to promote awareness about homelessness.

Alpha Psi Omega fraternity president, Peter Alfano, is one of the students who participated in the event.

“It’s honestly the easiest and most fun service event that you can do,” Alfano said. “You just have your club or organization that you participate in pay 30 bucks for the donation and then you just have fun building. It feels like you’re a kid building forts – I mean, you’re just building cute little houses made out of cardboard.”

Senior Kirsten Parr, president of Habitat at Augie, has enjoyed seeing the different shanties that groups have built.

“[The shanties] vary a lot, in previous years there have been chimneys,” Parr said. “This year there was one that had a door on it and they drew outlets on the walls. It’s just fun to see the variety and creativity because you just give them cardboard and tape and they come up with very different things.”

Habitat at Augie advisor, Markus Harris, said their organization is a chapter of Habitat for Humanity that is tied to the Quad Cities’ local chapter. Habitat at Augie’s main purpose is to raise awareness about inadequate housing and to provide help on larger-scale projects like building houses alongside Habitat for Humanity.

“Shantytown really raises awareness for homelessness, which is why we build houses with cardboard boxes because a lot of times homeless people live in cardboard boxes out on the cold with horrible weather, no heat or electricity,” Parr said. “It’s a fun event which is good because it attracts more campus involvement, but you also get to experience just a fraction of what [homeless people] have to experience every day.”

“One of the most important things about this event is that it brings notice to the fact that we even have a Habitat for Humanity chapter club on campus. It is something to get people to ask more questions and to create interest,” Harris said.

Harris said that most of the people who take part in Shantytown are part of Greek Life groups and other clubs around campus. However, all are invited to participate.

“The 30 dollars are used to buy the materials for further service projects and in some cases, we donate straight back to Habitat for them to use in one of the projects we take part in like the spring break trip,” Parr said. “During spring we have our biggest service project, we build a house or some sort of long term work with the Quad Cities’ Habitat for Humanity.”

“If you’ve ever considered doing some volunteer work I would highly recommend trying it [Habitat at Augie]. It’s not only beneficial to the community, but also for yourself. It helped me build confidence and it gives you a lot of information about maintaining a home,” Harris said.