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Mercyhurst partners with Habitat on ‘The House That Hurst Built’

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Members of the Mercyhurst University community will trade their academic tools for hammers this month as they partner with the Greater Erie Area Habitat for Humanity to construct “The House That Hurst Built.”

Beginning Aug. 27 with Freshman Welcome Week, teams of Mercyhurst students, faculty, staff, administrators and alumni will take shifts building a new home from scratch at 2259 Woodlawn Avenue for the Rosemary Anderson family. The goal is to complete the blitz-build in four weeks and celebrate its completion during halftime festivities at Mercyhurst’s Homecoming football game Sept. 22.

Members of the university community will come together for a “House that Hurst Built Kick-off Rally” at the build site on Tuesday, Aug. 21, at 10 a.m.

The House that Hurst Built is part of an even grander initiative called “The Year of the University,” which is Mercyhurst’s way of engaging its own family and the Erie community in celebrating its historic transition from a college to a university. Mercyhurst College, founded in 1926 by the Sisters of Mercy, officially became Mercyhurst University in January 2012. Lectures, performances and assorted public events are planned throughout the year.

The House that Hurst Built, meanwhile, is the first-of-its-kind project for the local Habitat chapter, according to Habitat director Nancy Milkowski. She said this marks the first time that a university has assumed ownership of a local build. It will also mark some other firsts. It will be the first time, for instance, that the build schedule will include Friday nights, a move made to accommodate as many full-time employees and students as possible in this pioneering build.

“Many years ago, the Sisters of Mercy pitched in to finish the Old Main building in time for classes to begin in 1926,” said Mercyhurst University President Dr. Tom Gamble. “We envision this as a similar opportunity to come together as a community and build something wonderful for the benefit of another. This is the perfect way to commemorate our transition to a university and, just as importantly, reinforce our mission as ‘Ambassadors of Service.’”

Volunteer teams have been forming for weeks and represent every facet of the university and its satellite campuses, including student athletes, members of student organizations, faculty, office staff and maintenance crews, said project coordinator Colin Hurley, director of service learning at Mercyhurst.

“The House that Hurst Built not only is a great way to engage hundreds of volunteers from the university community, but to serve as a reminder of our core values as a Mercy institution,” Hurley said. “We are eager to share our labors with the Erie community, particularly in service to those who are struggling during these tough economic times. I think it brings us all closer.”

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