Mercer Taus & Habitat for Humanity to host luncheon

22 February

Students with the Mercer University chapter of Habitat for Humanity, along with the Alpha Tau Omega fraternity, will host a faculty and staff luncheon at 12:15 p.m. Tuesday at the Mercer Religious Life Center to raise awareness and funds for Habitat for Humanity.

Mercer’s Habitat for Humanity chapter has been working closely with Macon Habitat for Humanity since the early 1990s, said Harold Tessendorf, Macon Habitat executive director, by providing volunteers and helping raise money.

While members of Macon Habitat for Humanity guided the students in putting the luncheon together, most of the effort, including event planning and getting the word out, has fallen on the shoulders of the Mercer students, adding a service-learning component to the event.

“It’s something we definitely had to pay a lot of attention to and plan as much as possible,” said senior Abdul-Razaq Adeniyi, 19, who is the president of Mercer’s Habitat for Humanity chapter.

In 2009, about 50 faculty members and corporate sponsors attended the event in its first year, and about $20,000 was raised there from donations and sponsorships, said Jim Mercer, Macon Habitat development director. This year, State Farm Insurance offered the Mercer chapter a $5,000 matching grant, doubling last year’s award of $2,500.

Adeniyi, who has been involved with the group since his freshman year, leads 100 registered members at Mercer.

“It’s a great charity and a great organization. The work they and we do has a direct impact on people’s lives. It’s helped improve the community in Macon,” he said

The campus group’s biggest project every year is Mercer Build, with students spending several months constructing a Habitat home. This year, the group will work from March to June on its project. The home is sponsored by Macon Habitat for Humanity, along with partnerships with local churches and businesses.

Paul Lewis, faculty adviser for the Mercer chapter and associate professor of Christianity, describes the group as “one of the most active campus chapters in the Southeast.”

The Mercer chapter has played an important role in the efforts of Macon Habitat for Humanity to revitalize Macon’s Lynmore Estates. Since 2005, Macon Habitat for Humanity has concentrated on the construction of new Habitat homes in the neighborhood. The group hopes to have 46 homes built there by 2013, Tessendorf said.

The Macon chapter will hold a dedication Wednesday at noon for its 2009 Fall Faith Build at 4131 Marion Ave. in Lynmore Estates. Local churches coordinated the effort.

In working with the Mercer students, Macon Habitat for Humanity is molding the next generation of community leaders. “The elimination of substandard housing is a long-term process. We’re just a small part of that … and students bring enthusiasm and a willingness to learn,” Tessendorf said.

Lewis said the school’s Baptist and liberal arts background encourages its students to be involved with the world around them through initiatives such as Habitat for Humanity.

“We’re faithful to both our religious and educational heritage,” Lewis said. “Higher education gets a bad rap for being too theoretical, for being in an ivory tower. We’re bridging the perceived gap between town and gown.”

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