“Homelessness does not equal heartlessness” was one of the many quotes written in chalk on Appian Way in support of Habitat for Humanity’s Act Speak Build Week. Act Speak Build Week is celebrated internationally from April 10 to 16, to encourage people to advocate for affordable shelter, speak in communities about homelessness and build awareness for poverty housing.

Keene State College junior and elementary education and sociology major Natashia Baker serves as the President of KSC’s Habitat for Humanity chapter.

Baker said the club put together a week full of events and participated in a build in order to spread awareness.

“On Saturday, prior to the start of our week, a group of us went to Concord, New Hampshire to work with their habitat chapter on a mobile home renovation. We installed a subfloor, as well as cleaned up the insulation underneath the mobile home and installed a door,” Baker said.

On each day of the week, the KSC chapter put on a different event in support of Act Speak Build Week. Baker said on Monday club members tabled in the student center sharing trivia and facts about homelessness.

On Tuesday, members chalked Appian Way with facts and advertised for Habitat for Humanity.

During the general member meeting on Wednesday, a guest speaker from the United Church of Christ, which also serves as the overflow shelter for those who suffer from homelessness, spoke about his perspectives on Keene’s large homeless population.

Thursday, club members made 100 peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for donation to 100 Nights Homeless Shelter. On Friday, members held a fundraiser for people to build bird houses for $3 each. All proceeds go to their tithing location, a Habitat for Humanity affiliate in Lebanon, where Syrian refugees are seeking shelter.

KSC sophomore and anthropology and sociology major Olivia Miller serves as one of the publicity coordinators for Habitat for Humanity. She said one of the club’s main goals is to break the stigmas of homelessness.

Miller said, “I think it’s important for people to realize that sometimes we are put in positions that we can’t get out of and our government can only do so much, but I think it’s up to people in the community to go out and make a difference and do what they can to help people who are without homes. I’m so grateful to have two homes and it’s hard to think of somebody who has none.”

Club President Natashia Baker explained that this week is all about educating and raising awareness about the social issues of poverty, lack of equal housing and homelessness. Baker said, “Before you can create change, you must know what needs to be changed and why. This week is all about educating others with the hope that people will step back and see that this is a problem in our society and it is our job to do something about it.”

Baker also said that Habitat for Humanity believes specifically in housing equality and works toward giving everyone a place they can call home. She explained how difficult it is for people to reach their full potential if they lack basic needs. Without shelter, many other aspects such as employment, education and raising a family become difficult to attain.

KSC sophomore and occupational health and safety major Katie Masso-Glidden has been actively involved in Habitat for Humanity since her first year of college. She said rather than having one day or one weekly meeting dedicated to Act Speak

Build Week, an entire week of events is put on to raise awareness. Masso-Glidden said, “Act Speak Build week takes a couple months to prepare. I believe the outcome of this week shows the dedication that the individuals actively involved have for the organization overall…in my opinion, Habitat for Humanity is completely underrated. I guarantee if more people were aware of the organization, they would understand how much fun it is give back to the community.”

Jessica Ricard can be contacted at jricard@kscequinox.com

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