After the Storms: 
One College's Response to Hurricane Victims
By Gary Honnert

Twenty-Five students and faculty from Sinclair Community College gave up their leisure plans for Memorial Day weekend to build a Habitat for Humanity home as part of Blitz Week in and around Baton Rouge, Louisiana.  The build site was not far from the worst damage from Hurricane Katrina.

The home was constructed in neighboring Plaquemine, Louisiana, for Kendrell and Keiane Collins, who had been displaced from their New Orleans home by Hurrican Katrina.  In the aftermath of the storm, they had been renting in Plaquemine.  Kendrell works for Turner Industries, and Keiane had been studying surgical technology at Delgado Community College.  They were also expecting their first child at the time the hurricane struck.

Sinclair President Steven Lee Johnson requested that one of two Dayton Habitat for Humanity home projects in which Sinclair was participating be sited in Louisiana in symbolic support of the Louisiana Community and Technical College System.  System Chancellor Walter G. Bumphus is a close friend and mentor of Johnson, and Sinclair had pledged its support for the system in response to the hurricane's widespread damage throughout Bumphus' state.

Many of the students involved in the twin building projects were civil engineering technology students, including some of those inolved in the 42 hour Construction technician Certificate program.  Sinclair's Civil Engineering Technology Associate Degree program places a strong emphasis on construction management.  Its graduates work for civil design firms, surveying companies, or contactors, in both home and commercial building.  Courses focus on topics such as estimating, scheduling, and building layout.

Other student volunteers on the Plaquemine build were enrolled in a Special Topics in Humanties class or were fulfilling service requirements as part of their membership in Phi Theta Kappa.

Marilyn Rodney, Sinclair's Service Learning Program Coordinator, describes service learning as a teaching method that combines service with academic instruction focusing on critical, reflective thinking and civic responsibility.  "Service learning programs involve students in organized community service that addresses local needs while developing their academic skills, sense of civic responsibility and commitment to the community."

The Habitat for Humanity home in Plaquemine was the second structure built by Sinclair volunteers in 2006.  Another home was also built at a site in Riverside, Ohio, just a 15 minute drive from the Sinclair campus.  Both of the 1,100 square foot homes include a living room, kitchen, dining area, bathroom, and three bedrooms.

(excerpt from Innovation Showcase August 2006, Volume 1, Number 8)