Kettering University’s ongoing revitalization efforts in the University Avenue Corridor will be bolstered by a new student-led initiative -- a student chapter of Habitat for Humanity.
Harschal Patel ‘18, a Kettering student majoring in Industrial Engineering, lived in Shanghai, China for eight years before moving back to Troy, Michigan, for high school. While in China, he became involved in the Habitat for Humanity organization and thought launching a student chapter would be a good way to supplement Kettering’s community engagement efforts.
“Habitat for Humanity is a great organization, and they do so much more than just build houses,” Patel said. “They promote a safe environment in neighborhoods, do park cleanups, mentor families, host community events and do renovations. The presence of Habitat for Humanity in a community helps make people feel comfortable living there.”
Patel, who is a member of the Sigma Chi fraternity, started with his fraternity brothers to recruit members of the new chapter.
“We’re a service-driven fraternity and we strive to help the community,” Patel said. “We’d love to expand and have any student who has an interest participate, whether it’s through work on the projects themselves, marketing, fundraising … this is truly an organization where anyone can help. Collectively, we can make a big difference.”
Kettering’s chapter will be advised by Tom and Cathy Ayers. Tom serves as Kettering University Vice President for Administration and Finance. Ayers and his team have helped implement many of Kettering’s initiatives in the area around campus, including razing blighted structures and creating new green spaces, renovating the historic Atwood Stadium and constructing the Einstein Bros. Bagels eatery on campus that opened in 2013 and the Jimmy Johns eatery at University Avenue and Grand Traverse Street, which will open this summer.
“We are excited to be able to serve as advisors to support our Kettering students who are forming this new chapter which will be the first ever college chapter of Habitat for Humanity in Genesee County,” Ayers said. “Habitat for Humanity has an exciting mission in helping people find hope and meet their housing needs and is a great partner for Kettering with its efforts at community engagement. The local Genesee County Habitat for Humanity Affiliate organization has been recognized nationally for its work and leadership and is excited about working with our students in making a real difference in the City of Flint and surrounding areas.”
The first project for the group will be a joint project with the Genesee Habitat for Humanity Affiliate renovating a home on St. Clair Street in the Mott Park neighborhood.
“The house currently needs about $30,000-$40,000 in renovations,” Patel said. “We will be doing fundraising to help support the project, helping with the renovation work, and recruiting volunteers. We’re excited to get started.”
Patel hopes to get started on that project in June. In the meantime, members of the chapter have already begun participating in service projects. In May, they helped with a cleanup in the Carriage Town Neighborhood area, including helping the owner of the Ninth Cat Men’s Hairstyling business on Grand Traverse Street.
“Kettering’s Service Saturdays have been very successful, and they tie-in nicely with the mission of our Habitat for Humanity chapter,” Patel said. “Now we’ll have the support of an international organization behind those efforts, creating an even bigger impact.”
Students interested in participating in the chapter can contact Harschal Patel at email@example.com for more information. Students from both A and B section are welcome, so as to keep projects moving forward year-round.