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SAU Habitat for Humanity: 'Sandra's Heritage'

March 2012

Competing with the ring of hammers and the buzz of power tools, SAU Habitat group advisor Kathy Anderson spoke over her cell phone.

"Things are going great," said Anderson.

As group advisor, Anderson helped lead the cohort of 15 Ambrosians who traveled more than 1,000 miles by mini-van to Charleston, S.C. Their mission? To help partner family Sandra Miller rehab her historic two-bedroom house in downtown Charleston.

It wasn't just a house. In the 1920s a female philantropist wanted to promote home ownership for women, certainly a concept out of the norm for that time. She proceeded to buy a block of 20 houses and one-by-one, sold them to women, including Miller's late mother. As the Ambrose volunteers worked side-by-side with Miller on her 100-year-old house, there was a sense of empowerment and legacy, and a remembrance of the forward-thinking patron and the strong women who took on home ownership with pride.

The renovation work was new for the SAU Habitat for Humanity group. They wore respirators to remove old paint, lifted up worn flooring, and rebuilt, as opposed to built, door frames. "We're used to new construction," said Anderson. "This is adding a different skill set." Construction of a new room on the back of the house was familiar to the group, however. Anderson was surprised—and a little proud—to discover that a couple of students new to Habitat had conquered their fear of heights as a result of sitting on rafters during their work.

Led by Anderson, student leader Kevin Annis, and group advisers Christine Day and Tom Moothart, the students took time each evening for reflection. "We looked forward to hearing the 'high-lows' of the day," said Anderson. "It was very rewarding to hear what the students had to say and there were definitely more highs than lows."

Part of their nightly discussion centered around the "Two Feet of Social Justice" model developed by SAU's Monsignor Mottet. According to Mottet's model, just as it takes two feet for people to walk, it takes both the foot of charity and the foot of action for justice to bring about significant social change.

"They got that," said Anderson. "They understood that the footprints they leave here in Charleston will lead many others to follow."

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