University Of Virginia Students Rebuild The Coast

By: Venton D. Blandin
By: Venton D. Blandin

October 23, 2005

Since Hurricanes Katrina and Rita hit the gulf coast, support may seem to have dwindled in some areas, but not in Charlottesville.

Support in Charlottesville is still going strong in all parts of our community, especially when it comes to students at the university, and rebuilding the coast.

After many hours of planning, and days of fund-raising, construction began on the Lawn at the University of Virginia.

"One of the things a lot of students at UVA want to do is help out with Hurricane Katrina," said Philippe Podhorecki, the President of the University of Virginia's Habitat for Humanity.

The building effort started after UVA's chapter of habitat for humanity's president thought of an idea to get students involved with a national campaign.

"I got an e-mail one day from the Charlottesville Habitat [for Humanity]. They said they talked to John Grisham, and he is his wife Renee were willing to donate enough money to have six houses built," explained Podhorecki.

The construction crew of students, worked hard hammering nails, and drilling screws to construct frames of two homes. Supporting the hard work were local philanthropists John and Renee Grisham who just returned from the gulf coast Sunday morning.

"When I told folks that UVA students were building two houses this weekend they were shocked, and just thrilled and overwhelmed by the generosity of Virginians," said Renee Grisham.

"You can never just settle for what's given to you-- you always have to try to achieve more, said Podhorecki.

Following that positive attitude, the Grishams, who were personally affected by the hurricanes, made another commitment to the UVA Habitat for Humanity; to work with the students again to rebuild the coast on another project in the future.

"This is a very serious bunch of kids here. The UVA Habitat kids are talking about going down to Mississippi in March--maybe as many as 50 kids [to build] some more houses. They're fired up, and we're happy to be a part of it," said Grisham.

The future project is actually going to happen in two parts. The group of students will go to the hurricane stricken areas in January 2006, and during their spring break in March of 2006 as well.

The group only built two homes today, but others will be built all around Charlottesville including on the Downtown Mall in coming weeks.

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