Building communityApril 24, 2012
In the movies, Greek life is never like this – hauling, toiling and sweating for others.
But that was the reality for some 130 Rowan Greeks April 16-20 as they partnered with Camden County Habitat for Humanity to help build six new townhouses.
Those homes, in the Lanning Square section of Camden, will ultimately be sold to six families whose own sweat equity also poured into their construction.
While most of the Rowan fraternity and sorority members taking part in the build at 6th and Royden will never know the future residents, many said that just added to their satisfaction.
"I'm putting my love into someone else's home and it feels good," said Jamayra Castro, 27, a senior art major from Bridgeton.
As part of their duties on day one of the build, Castro and Julissa Mesa, sisters in the Lambda Theta Alpha sorority, moved large concrete cinder blocks from the work zone to a 20-cubic-yard construction container nearby. The sun beat down as they unloaded a wheelbarrow full of blocks and dust billowed up, coating them in the heat.
"I really don't mind it," said Mesa, 20, a junior journalism major from Passaic. "We're learning a little about construction but we're also learning how to work together and that brings you closer."
Like other affiliates of Habitat for Humanity International, the Camden County chapter promotes economic empowerment and community revitalization in partnership with volunteers.
Don McManamy, project director for the Camden County chapter, said Rowan's Greek community knew in advance they'd be required to do real, hands-on, roll-up- your-t-shirt-and-get-dirty construction work, and they came out anyway.
"They wanted to make a difference and they did," McManamy said. "This is something that, ten years from now, they can come back and say they had a hand in."
Kelvin Rodriguez, Rowan's coordinator for Greek Affairs, said more than a third of the University's 436-member Greek community took part in the Habitat build, the main service project for the spring semester. He said Rowan Greeks also raised roughly $10,000 for the American Cancer Society through a variety of events including the March 30-31 Relay for Life program.
Saumil Prasad, 18, a freshmen history major from Sewell and recent pledge to the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity, said the toughest part of his day was rising to catch the shuttle to Camden.
"It was hard getting up at six in the morning," he said. "I've never done construction before and I'm new to the fraternity but this feels good. I'm glad I did it."