UNCW student-athletes give back through Habitat for Humanity

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UNCW’s Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) hopes to build a stronger relationship in the community by continuing to encourage student-athletes to volunteer with Cape Fear Habitat for Humanity.

Student-athletes from four different teams have been donating their time this year to build a Habitat for Humanity home. Photo Courtesy- UNCW athletics
Student-athletes from four different teams have been donating their time this year to build a Habitat for Humanity home. Photo courtesy UNCW athletics.

D.N. Cherry, a senior on the women’s track and field team, the community service chair for SAAC, began volunteering for Habitat several years ago. She proposed the idea of UNCW student-athletes serving as the primary builders of a Habitat house.

“Volunteering was fun, but it was kind of an eye openers,” said Cherry. “We’re out there on site from morning until mid-afternoon, all working on various jobs that we are taught by the site coordinators. Building the house and helping people at the same time was really rewarding.”

Habitat for Humanity provides affordable house for those in need. Homeowners assume a zero-interest mortgage and work on their home and other families’ homes. The work creates a true commitment to ownership from the homeowner and helps them make a better life for their family, according to Habitat officials.

A Habitat home usually takes four months to build. UNCW’s student-athletes are currently helping to build a house at 1403 King St. in Wilmington.

“We have 30 volunteers build on 10 Saturdays,” said Jessica Loeper, Cape Fear Habitat for Humanity volunteer coordinator.

Several members of UNCW’s Student-Athlete Support Services staff, along with the volleyball, men’s soccer, men’s cross country and women’s cross country teams, have already volunteered their time.

“We installed sub-flooring and wall frames and the team worked alongside the new homeowner, building contractors and hopeful future habitat homeowners,” said Volleyball Head Coach Amy Bambenek, who added that the experience “allowed our players to see first-hand that their work really does make a positive difference in other people’s lives.”

Will Libous, SAAC advisor, worked with Cherry to organize the volunteer efforts by more than 60 UNCW student-athletes.

“Everyone looked to be having a good time,” said Libous. “It helped to know that what we were doing was for a great cause and supporting the Wilmington community.”

Cape Fear Habitat for Humanity’s goal is to build 12 homes each year in New Hanover and Pender counties. The organization has helped more than 150 families in the Cape Fear area since 1987.

“As with any involvement the student-athletes have in the Wilmington community, it shows that they are committed to giving back to this great community, which gives so much support to UNCW and the athletics department,” Libous said.