On Saturday,April 20, students joined Frank Daggett and Kathryn Cody from the College’sMercy Center on the 80-mile round trip to Fryeburg, Maine, to help completerenovations at the Mother Seton House. Founded on the mission “to supportpregnant women, new mothers and infants in need,” the Mother Seton Houseprovides an opportunity for Saint Joseph’s students to give their time to agood cause. One of the crewmembers was nursing student Krista Ethier-Whitmore’14, president of the College’s Habitat for Humanity Club.
When didwork begin for the College at the Mother Seton House?
The MercyCenter has had a connection with the Mother Seton House for a while – duringbaby-goods drives, this is one of the organizations we donated items to. FrankDaggett doubles as Mercy Center director and advisor for the Habitat Club, sowhen he told me about the work going on at the Mother Seton House, I knew thatI personally wanted to help and that it would be a great location for Habitatto donate time.
The Habitatfor Humanity Club started working at Mother Seton House last semester. We had aworkday in October where we helped clean old plywood and plastic sheeting outof the garage, then did some yard work. We returned on April 20 to do someprojects on the inside of the house. The house is almost finished and ready toaccept residents.
As presidentof the Habitat club, do you see more than just club members participating?
We have hadHabitat officers and members participate, folks from the Mercy Center, a fewrepresentatives from the Feeney Players, and a some students who were lookingfor community service hours. I like to keep the Habitat programs open to anyonewho is interested in participating. If the desire to help is present insomeone, then we can find a job for him or her.
What was theday like for you and the other volunteers?
We arrivedin Fryeburg at 10 a.m. Mother Seton House Director Cyndi Broyer was there togreet us and gave us a tour of the house to show us the progress and what jobswere available for the day. We broke for lunch at 12:15, and when we were doneeating, we wrapped up what painting jobs were left and cleaned our brushes andworkstations. We left the house at 1:20 p.m.
There wereplenty of projects for us. The house has three stories plus a basement, andthere was something to do on each level. Most of what we did was to paint andclean floors and bathtubs. A few students helped set up a shelving unit in thebasement. The third floor needed some wall spackle, two closet floors neededscrubbing, some students spent their time on the porch to paint closet doors,and Frank Daggett was outside working on the yard. One non-SJC volunteer cameby and helped with some kitchen cleaning, and a hired plumber was working onthe second-floor bathroom.
I painted inthe biggest bedroom that had the most jobs. Including myself, there were fivepeople in there to paint. I also washed the closet floor that I had paintedearlier in the day. This wasn’t as simple as using a mop. The floor needed aliberal scrubbing with a sponge.
How wouldyou describe the progress of the renovation?
Of thethings left to do in the house, the only structural needs are to install somecloset and cabinet doors and to place the washer and dryer on a laundrypedestal. Other than that, there are several cosmetic jobs, and a group ofvolunteers is scheduled to finish those things next weekend. Our work wascontributing to the last leg of the race. After the cosmetics and furniture aretaken care of, the house will be ready.
What hasyour time with the Habitat for Humanity Club been like?
I wasinvolved with Habitat my freshman year as a club member. In my sophomore year,I was elected as vice-president. Last year’s president asked me if I would liketo be president for this year, and I of course said yes.
I stick withit because I am excited about Habitat’s mission, and participating in theimprovement of others’ lives enriches mine. I cannot speak for the othermembers, although many of them have told me that working with Habitat does notfeel like work, but rather it is fun. I also feel the same. I have done a lotof other volunteer work here at SJC and in the past, but Habitat is special.Being able to enter into a home-building or improvement project and see theprogress that your work has done instills a certain sense of gratification.
Habitat isabout building homes, but it goes deeper. We are building a place forsuccessful futures, and we are supporting community. I do the work I do becauseI believe that one should do the right thing just because it is right. I feelthat I am being the best “me” when I work with Habitat and missions similar toit.
How does thework at the Mother Seton House inspire you?
The missionof Mother Seton House is to “support pregnant women, new mothers, and infantsin need.” The house itself is a physical refuge for these people, but there areprograms in place to teach these women how to transition into independentliving situations, find jobs and learn other tasks in order to supportthemselves and their children. Any time a woman is in a desperate situation butchooses to hold on to her children and make them a priority, it should be easyfor her to find resources to help her in that decision.
I am proudto support MSH because doors of opportunity are being opened for these women(many my age) and their beautiful babies. My contribution to the house getsthese gals one step closer to a safe, compassionate home, and this isabundantly positive.