LEXINGTON, Ky. (Dec. 19, 2013) — Nothing like it has ever been built – not by Lexington Habitat for Humanity, and certainly not by the University of Kentucky student volunteers who raised the money as well as the hammers and saws for this, their third, Habitat build.
Swarms of UK students, aided occasionally by volunteers from the UK Division of Student Affairs, have been working on the home all semester, performing all but the most sensitive professional tasks of building a home that will be totally accessible for Misty Hess, a UK alumna born with cerebral palsy. The students are all part of either the UK Habitat for Humanity Campus Chapter, Interfraternity Council or the Panhellenic Council.
"Since participating in my first Habitat for Humanity build my freshman year here at UK, I can honestly say that I have grown very attached to the cause. I participate every year at the UK build through IFC and my fraternity Pi Kappa Alpha,” said Ross Micciche, IFC vice president of community relations and the Pi Kappa Alpha philanthropy chair.
“There is something about getting your hands dirty with your fraternity brothers, alongside other UK students, all in the name of helping a local community member have a permanent place in Lexington. That really gives you a rewarding feeling at the end of a long day's work,” he said.
The accessible house has features like lowered light switches and raised wall outlets, a five-foot turning radius throughout the house for her wheelchair, and full ADA-compliant kitchen and bathroom.
For Hess, owning her own home will mean a new kind of independence, an independence she has fought for her entire life. Hess moved by herself from Pennsylvania to Lexington to pursue a master’s degree in rehabilitation counseling at UK, which she earned in 2007. She now works at Bluegrass Community Technical College, coordinating tutoring services for students with disabilities. Like other Habitat homeowners, she had to work alongside the volunteers as they built her home.
“Habitat doesn’t just give you a home,” Hess said proudly. “You have to work hard for it, and I really like that.”
Home ownership is only the most recent dream come true for Hess. Once she gets settled, her new goal is to earn her doctorate at UK.
“After working even more closely with Habitat for Humanity organization this past year as vice president of community outreach for UK's InterFraternity Council,” said Micciche, “I can also vouch for the sincerity, seriousness and professionalism with which the Lexington branch of Habitat for Humanity approaches each build and the volunteers and families associated with that build. They are wonderful people and truly do great work for Lexington."