» Return to UAF News and Events

Athletes make a habit of volunteering

Submitted by Megan Otts
Phone: 907-474-6959


UAF photos by Megan Otts
Photo caption below.
Junior Amanda Hartman, right, and freshman Erin Widby install a piece of siding at a Habitat for Humanity job site on Saturday, Sept. 8, 2007. Student athletes from the University of Alaska Fairbanks men's basketball and women's swim teams spent the day at the site working on two houses.

Photo caption below.
Junior Colin Matteson, right, and freshman Tony Besse run a two-man auger while drilling holes for deck footers at a Habitat for Humanity job site on Saturday, Sept. 8, 2007.

Photo caption below.
Freshman DeRay Carger, left, and junior Philippe Jourdain work together to secure a window at a Habitat for Humanity job site on Saturday, Sept. 8, 2007.

Download photos
UAF athletes got out of the gym and into the community last weekend as they teamed up with Habitat for Humanity to build homes for two local families.

Members of the University of Alaska Fairbanks men's basketball and women's swimming teams spent Saturday volunteering at a job site on 25th Avenue and Mercier Street, helping build a pair of three-bedroom houses for two single mothers and their children. Under the direction of Habitat's construction manager, Maurice Lake, the Alaska Nanooks staff, coaches and student athletes were separated into groups and assigned tasks ranging from installing siding to running electrical wire to taping and mudding drywall joints.

Senior swimmer Rebecca George said that she enjoyed her first day volunteering with Habitat.

"Not only is it fun to work with other sports teams in our department," she said. "It's good to actually get out in the community and do something really productive."

According to senior Mike Titus, volunteering with Habitat gives the athletes a chance to bond on a different, more personal level than they do in practice.

"Off the court, [volunteering] lets us hang out and joke around," he said. "It's a lot of fun."

Meeting the families who were going to move into the houses gave his work more meaning, Titus added. "People are actually going to live in [these homes]. It's a great feeling."

According to George, the work kept students busy throughout the day.

"Everyone has a specific job," she said. "We all feel like we are getting something done and no one is just standing around doing nothing."

This is the third consecutive year that UAF athletes have volunteered with Habitat. They will continue their work at the jobsite this Saturday, Sept. 15, as the men's hockey team picks up where the other athletes left off.

The Alaska Nanooks' volunteer work will continue throughout the weekend as they host the "Bigs for a Day" event with Big Brothers Big Sisters on Sunday, Sept. 16. Local little brothers, little sisters and their families have been invited to join the athletes at the UAF Patty Center for an afternoon of games and sports starting at 3 p.m. A craft table will be set up for younger children and a barbecue will follow the event.

Teresa Thompson, partnership development director for BBBS, said that working with the UAF athletes has proven to be mutually beneficial.

"It's a win-win partnership," she said. "Not only do we give students the opportunity to volunteer in the community, but our kids get the chance to be around the university athletes, which are pretty much local stars, and we get increased visibility by association."

She added that BBBS is always looking for mentors. Anyone interested in volunteering can visit the local BBBS Web site or call 907-452-8110 for more information.

Other UAF students that are interested in volunteering can visit the volunteer opportunities section of the UAF leadership program Web site or attend the upcoming volunteer fair, Wednesday, Sept. 19 from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. in the Wood Center. Over 25 local nonprofits will be represented.