Kaine joins College students at Habitat project

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January 22, 2009

11:37 PM

Sounds of hammering could be heard Monday at a Habitat for Humanity construction site in Petersburg, Va., as College of William and Mary students nailed up dry wall with the help of Virginia Governor Timothy M. Kaine and his family on Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

Before beginning construction work, Kaine told the group of volunteers on the St. Mark house site that this was an historic week for the country.

“The President-elect asked us to serve today,” Kaine said.

Kaine, who volunteered for a non-profit housing organization in Honduras before law school, was put to work with a hammer and power tools next to College students who had awoken before dawn.

After volunteering, Kaine left for Washington, D.C., to attend Tuesday’s Presidential Inauguration.

It was a cold Monday for the approximately 40 students and administrators of the College who volunteered for Habitat and two other local organizations in the Petersburg area, community development organization Pathways and Elder Homes. This “Day of Service” was organized last August by Brandie Burris ’09 and Mallory Johnson ’10 along with the Office of Student Volunteer Services.

“We want to strengthen the relationship between William and Mary and Petersburg,” Burris said.

This year a spring break service trip to Petersburg, focusing on housing projects, will be part of the annual spring semester lottery by the OSVS.

Some students said the message of civil rights movement and the historic nature of the week inspired their act of service.

“On a federal holiday, when people have time, it’s good to commit that time to the community at large,” Johnson said. “The change we make can be small; it doesn’t have to be building a house.”

“I always liked this idea of a young person giving back to the community,” said Mateos Chekol ’12, who added that was drawn to the College by its commitment to service. “Volunteering today is a way of saying [King’s] dream lives on, and tomorrow is another historic moment.”

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