Saturday, March 21, 2009

Alumni, students work on FrogHouse

The irises are blooming along side homes on the east side of Fort Worth, where Horned Frog alumni and students gathered on the first day of spring to build a Trinity Habitat for Humanity home.

For future homeowner Alice Villegas, 60, the house being erected is a sure sign of renewal and hope. It will be the first home she's ever bought, and it will allow her to move from the house she shares with her sister, brother-in-law and his extended family.

"These students, these people are just awesome," Villegas says as the crew of TCU workers put up siding, painted and installed roof vents. "I'm really grateful."

She'll finally be able to have her grandchildren over to visit once the house is completed in mid-May. Construction began in February and most all the work has been done by Horned Frogs.

For three years, the TCU junior class and the Fort Worth Alumni Association have built FrogHouse homes for Habitat for Humanity. The effort is part of the junior class focus on responsible citizenship. Other student groups participate as well, including the International Student Association that helped out Friday.

"It's an important job," says Zhao Zhang, a sophomore engineering student from Beijing who helped with the painting. "It's a good way to spend spring break."

Alums find the volunteer work rewarding as well.

Jack Larson '86, a member of the Fort Worth Alumni Association board, took a day off from his job as a real estate and business lawyer to work on the three-bedroom, two-bath, 1,485-square-foot home.

"It's a great way for Fort Worth alumni to work with students and see what they are doing these days," Larson said. "I am really proud of them."

For Steve Cowden '82, crew chief for the project, the home is the 167th he's helped build for Trinity Habitat for Humanity since 1992 and he can't seem to get enough.

"It feels good to help people out," Cowden of Fort Worth says. He is retired now and spends his free time doing a range of volunteer work, including tax accounting for AARP and the Joint Air Reserve Base and ushering at Bass Hall.

His sentiments were echoed by volunteer Emily Mooney '01 of Benbrook, an interior design major who recently was laid off from a job in furniture sales.

"I needed to get out and do some good. With everything going on in the world today, we need to help people out."

The house is not a hand-out to Villegas. She'll pay a mortgage and she is investing "sweat equity" in working on the house alongside the TCU group she couldn’t stop praising with just one term: "Awesome. They are just awesome."

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