University Sponsors Habitat For Humanity Home

Wake Forest University has been working closely with Habitat for Humanity for years, and many students have volunteered through Wake Forest’s own Habitat for Humanity club to build homes for the organization. Wake Forest’s most recent involvement has been through the works of two of the university’s on-campus fraternities, Chi Psi and Sigma Pi. The university is currently sponsoring a Habitat Home at 1735 Richard Allen Lane for the Santiago family. The brothers of the two fraternities began the build at 8 a.m. on Feb. 16. It is still a work in progress and volunteering is open to the public.

Sponsoring a Habitat House costs $65,000, half of which is sponsored by the Reynolda Campus one year and the Medical Center the next year. Many organizations on Wake Forest’s campus have been involved in builds over the past years, including fraternities, sororities, Men’s Soccer, Campus Kitchen, the School of Business and many more.

The Santiago family consists of  Mariluz Santiago and her two children Ivanielis Morales Colon and Ivanna Morales Colon, who are 12 and 9, respectively. The family, originally from Puerto Rico, has lived in Winston-Salem for the past 11 years. Santiago said she hopes to provide a stable home for her daughters. The children also said they are excited to have their own bedrooms in the house, a playground and a space where they can have pets, according to a press release.

Debbie Cesta, the Volunteer and Engagement manager at Habitat for Humanity, said she has worked hard to make sure that the house was built for the Santiago family in a timely and efficient way.

“I’ve had lots of departments from the medical center who volunteered to help build the house that we just dedicated last Saturday,” said Cesta. “However, even when the Reynolda campus is not sponsoring a house, I still get many volunteers from that campus.”

Members of both Sigma Pi and Chi Psi said they hoped to put in enough time and effort to ensure that they got the job done.

“We split up between two houses, so one group cleaned and applied flooring to one house; the other group unloaded and raised the walls for the Wake Forest sponsored house,” said senior Sam Embree, one of the philanthropy chairs for Sigma Pi.

Although the job requires hard labor, Embree spoke on the validation that comes from volunteering for Habitat for Humanity.

“It was really fun, and awesome to see what a group of around 20 people could accomplish on a Saturday morning,” Embree said. 

Sophomore Trey Keiser, the president of the Chi Psi fraternity, also spoke of the intricacies of the build.

“Over the course of the day, rough framing was installed for the first floor of the new home,” said Keiser. “We also moved all of the framing for the interior walls to the build site to expedite the next steps of the building process.”

Even though these students had little to no experience building homes, the structure of the program and the ability to work with other students ensured that the process ran as smoothly and efficiently as possible.

Although the house has not been finished, both Wake Forest and the two fraternities were integral to beginning the path towards a home for the Santiago family.