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Civic-Minded Students, Instructor Again Take Part in ‘Habitat’ Build

Joe S. Miller, Adam C. Swan, Gregory B. Neal and Rebecca R. Miller cover a kitchen wall in Yonkers, N.Y.While many of their classmates were relaxing or preparing for another semester, agroup of students from the Pennsylvania College of Technology spent part of their winter break building houseswith Habitat for Humanitynear New York City.

The students represented Penn CollegeSMAC (Students Making a Contribution), a volunteer service organization that engages in a number of outreach efforts throughout the year. Thispast year alone, SMACsponsoreda litter cleanup along the RiverWalk near Williamsport, visited nursing home residents andassisted with the Lycoming County Out of the Darkness walk for suicide prevention and awareness.

For the second straight year, the group traveled to New Rochelle, N.Y., from Jan. 2-7 totake part inHabitat for Humanity’s Collegiate Challenge program. Collegiate Challengeoffers college students across the country opportunities toassist with Habitat-sponsoredconstruction projectsthroughout the United States and abroad.

The delegation from Penn College washosted byHabitat for Humanityof Westchester County, one of the most active Habitat affilitates in the United States with nearly a dozen planned or active buildsspread across sixneighboring communities in New York’s northern suburbs. Many of those towns have a severe shortage of quality, affordable housing for working families.

Habitat for Humanity of Westchester Countyhas also joined forces with many other Habitat affiliates to assist withreconstruction efforts in Haiti followingthe devastating earthquakes, sponsoring several tripsto date with another one planned for this spring.

Ashley M. Stuck and Patricia A. Hintz drywall a closet in Yonkers, N.Y., with Habitat for Humanity of Westchester County.Taking part in the trekwere Adam C. Swan, Lititz, information technology: security specialist concentration; Rebecca R. Miller, Williamsport, graphic communications management; Patricia A. Hintz, Muncy, applied human services; Gregory B. Neal, Port Matilda, emergency medical services; andAshley M. Stuck, Lewistown, applied human services.

Swan and Rebecca Miller, participants in the inaugural trip,hadsuch a positive experience last year that they wanted toreturn. Accompanying thegroup was Joe S. Miller, manager of audio/visual services andinstructor of sociology for the college.

“It’s always nice to return the good fortune that I’ve had to others,” said Swan, SMAC president. “As people, we’re quite blessed.”

The groupworked on a green building constructionon Orchard Street in Yonkers, N.Y. The house is a “near-zero energy” model, meaning thatthe power generated from the solar panels on the structure’s roof combined with the ultra-energy-efficient construction results in very little net electrical consumption over a typical year.

Interior walls of the structure are linedwithsoundproofing insulationmade from recycled denim jeans. National retail chainssponsor “used jean drives” throughout the year, providing donors with discount coupons toward the purchase of new denim wear. The jeans then are shipped to factories in the United States and remanufactured into this dense, toxin-freematerial.

Water-saving shower heads and toilets are among many other eco-friendly materials that were incorporated into the home’s design.

Somemembers of the Penn College teamalsobuiltporch frameson a pair of duplexes beingconstructed at another Habitat projectin Yonkers. Thehomes at that site were manufactured using prefabricated concrete modules, allowingthe shell of both two-story structures to be erected in a single day. That site is nearing completion, withoccupancy expected to commence by midyear.

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