UTPA Report: Habitat for Humanity


POSTED: Friday, July 5, 2013 - 11:22am

UPDATED: Saturday, July 6, 2013 - 10:11am

An Hidalgo County family will soon own their own home, thanks in part to students, faculty, staff and administrators from The University of Texas-Pan American. The UTPA group is working with Habitat for Humanity, a non-profit organization that builds or repairs homes for people in need, to make the family's dream come true. Here's Sandra Quintanilla with this week's News Center 23.

The sizzling, hot sun beams heavily over these hard workers, but it's not keeping them from shoveling dirt, carrying plywood and nailing boards. The men and women are actually employees of UT Pan American's Office of the President. They are in the small community of Las Milpas on this day as volunteers to support Habitat for Humanity and its goal of building a new home for a family in need. In the middle of all the action is UTPA President Robert Nelsen and his wife Jody. Nelsen and his staff took vacation hours to contribute to this very important cause. He personally believes it's his obligation as a citizen to be involved in community outreach programs,

Robert S. Nelsen, UTPA President, "For me physical work feels good. It's actually a break from the day to day grind so I like doing it a lot but you know I want to be connected and it makes me feel connected to the Valley."

Nelsen also believes that involvement in community outreach programs is critical for the university's success.

Robert S. Nelsen, UTPA President, "If we aren't connected with the community, the university won't be successful okay, we need to reach out to the community because we need to lift the community and so doing something like this really bring us together and we feel very good about it."

Other UTPA employees along with students and members of the UTPA"s chapter of Habitat for Humanity have been volunteering their time over the course of several months to help level the ground, install a sidewalk and prepare flooring at the construction site. Among the helpers is Ofelia Lopez, UTPA's head women's golf coach.

Ofelia Lopez, Women's Golf Coach, "It brings us back down to reality you know here we are to do a job that I love every single day of my life and it's coming back and being humble. It's giving us an opportunity to help people in need, people that need something more than we do.."

The project is being dubbed the "Sapphire House" to commemorate the University's 85th birthday. Once completed, the 1,100 square foot, three bedroom house will be for a family currently living in a rundown trailer. President Nelsen says he and his wife had the pleasure of helping build another Habitat for Humanity project which is now the home of a widowed man and his daughter.

Robert S. Nelsen, UTPA President, "This person was somebody who had lost his wife to cancer and now he’s got a daughter and his got a place to live. We’ll have another experience like that here with this new family."

I'm Sandra Quintanilla reporting for UTPA and News Center 23.

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