Ruth Gowitzke News Editor
Starting on Nov. 6 at noon, Habitat for Humanity hosted a 24-hour event called Shack-a-thon. This was an event made to raise awareness about substandard housing and fundraise for 24 hours to help those in need. According to The National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty they estimate that, “Each year at least 2.5 to 3.5 million American’s sleep in shelters, transitional housing and public places not meant for human habitation.” To simulate what people all around America are facing, students set up cardboard boxes that were taped together with a tarp underneath and slept in them for the night.
This event has been a long-standing tradition for this club. “I believe this event has been going on for over 20 years,” said Peter Bachiochi, one of the psychology professors and the advisor for Habitat for Humanity.
During the event, Bachiochi shared riddles with everyone to take their mind off the cold. It was also a good way for the students to be able to form a deeper bond with each other. They also played a card game with each other that made the dark night a little brighter.
However, the planning of this event does not just happen overnight. “We contact public safety to make sure everything is safe,” said Sarah Henckel, the president of Habitat for Humanity. “We organize club members [and] get pledges up until the event.” Henckel has been participating in this club since her freshman year. Despite this, the goal of this event hasn’t changed from the time that she has been at Eastern. They are still trying to raise as much money as they can and want to make a bigger impact each year that this event goes on. Henckel mentioned that they have fundraised about the same every year. “We’ve fundraised about 200 dollars and every bit goes back to Windham Habitat.” This year, the club made a little over 400 dollars.
For students who had just joined the club, this experience was something entirely new to them, but worth it in the end. “For me, it was interesting to see what it’s like for people in substandard housing and it was a lot harder than it looks,” said Caitlin Brophy a freshman. “It is important to be more conscious of people and what they are going through.” That night it had gotten down to 30 degrees. However, it has been a lot worse. That weekend had been even colder, with a low of 20 degrees.
Habitat for Humanity is an organization that strives to help those in need. This club is not the only people who are helping, in fact, according to Habitat for Humanity, “Today, more than two million Habitat volunteers a year build, advocate, and raise awareness about the global need for shelter.” To learn more about the club, be sure to go to their meetings which are on Thursdays at 7 p.m.
Currently, the club is working on a house on Serwan Avenue in Willimantic. Anyone can come and help out if they can.