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New Mexico State University's Habitat for Humanity campus chapter builds home

For the past four months, New Mexico State University students have rolled up their sleeves to build a home for a family of two.



From left: NMSU students Tiff West, Brett Winward and Joy Pollard work together to construct a house for Habitat for Humanity in Las Cruces. (NMSU photo by Mindy Giles)

Members of the NMSU Habitat for Humanity campus chapter -- a reserve unit that assists the local Las Cruces affiliate -- have been spending two Saturdays each month constructing a house for Maria Hidalgo and her 8-year-old daughter Elisa.

The group has helped build many houses locally and nationally, but this is the first time a structure has been constructed mostly by Aggie hands. The chapter, which is working in conjunction with the local Las Cruces affiliate, is sponsoring the labor and will assist with a fund raising event this spring.

"This is called the NMSU House because it's being built solely by NMSU students," said Tiff West, president of the NMSU Habitat chapter.

The students are being directed by volunteer Care-A-Vanners -- people who travel around the country and the world working on Habitat houses -- as well as other Mesilla Valley construction leaders.

"(The project) helps step up our level of commitment to the community," West said. "Not only does it get the Habitat word out, but it gets students excited about Habitat. It's really neat to see the fruit of your labor -- it's instant satisfaction."

The shell has been completed and in a few months, the once-empty lot on the west side of Las Cruces will be the site of a two-bedroom, one-bath house.

For Maria Hidalgo, future homeowner, the project is not just a helping hand, it's a Christmas wish come true.

"I received the letter saying we got the house last Christmas," Hidalgo said. "Though we don't have it yet, the house was a great gift."

Eight to 12 members of the NMSU Habitat chapter are at the site every other Saturday, and additional students from other organizations on campus volunteer their time whenever possible. Each family receiving a Habitat house contributes 500 hours of "sweat equity."

John Arguello, executive director of the Mesilla Valley Habitat for Humanity local Las Cruces affiliate, said the project is a nice outlet for young people.

"It will prove to be a fun and also a learning experience for everyone out there," he said.

The Mesilla Valley and NMSU Habitat for Humanity organizations are looking forward to a fund raiser in the future, hoping to collect between $5,000 and $10,000 in donations. The money will benefit the NMSU sponsorship of the home. For more information on the NMSU and Mesilla Valley Habitats call Tiff West at (505) 645-4655 or John Arguello at (505) 525-0475.

Photo is available at http://ucommphoto.nmsu.edu/newsphoto/habitat.jpg.
CUTLINE: From left: NMSU students Tiff West, Brett Winward and Joy Pollard work together to construct a house for Habitat for Humanity in Las Cruces. (NMSU photo by Mindy Giles)

Jeany Llorente
Dec. 19, 2002