Gail Hairston


A True Homecoming

Published: Oct 21, 2011

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Oct. 21, 2011) -- Homecoming is a time to celebrate the many traditions the University of Kentucky has established. Traditions such as leadership, service, and excellence are deeply rooted into the foundation of UK. This year UK students are honoring those traditions by giving back. Members of the Greek community along with the UK Habitat for Humanity Campus Chapter are working together to give a UK employee her first home.


DeShanda Player will be the recipient of the house once the team completes construction. The mother of four is looking forward to becoming the first homeowner in her family. “It means a lot because it is mine,” Player said. “I really appreciate the students who are working to build the home; without them it wouldn’t be possible.”


Along with family and friends, Player is at the construction site regularly. “What amazes me is the pride these college students take in their work,” said Kay Cobb, Player’s close friend. “They want to do a good job and will start over if something isn’t right. They use the work ethic that they are learning at UK and are successful on the job site.”


The commitment UK students are putting into the Habitat build is an act of building not only a home but a community. “The UK Build has been a truly historic one in that it has brought together students from Interfraternity Council (IFC), Panhellenic Council and the UK Habitat for Humanity Campus Chapter,” said Dana Stefaniak, resource development director for Lexington Habitat for Humanity. “To see students working so hard on behalf of a family they didn’t even know when they began the process of planning and fundraising is humbling.”


The goal is to have 4,000 members of the Greek community contribute to the building of the Habitat house in some way, either by helping to build the house or by donating to the house supplies. Full home sponsorship and goal fundraising amount is $42,500. The students have raised $25,000 thus far.


“UK students were encouraged to send letters to their friends and family asking for donations to help support the home sponsorship,” said Liz Brinker, philanthropy chair of Panhellenic Executive Council. “We had two rebate nights at Hugh Jass Burgers where portions of their sales went to Habitat, and students came out to support the cause. We have received donations from the Lexington/UK community as well.”


Students are working with a purpose — fundraising and building — to present the Player family with their first home on deadline. “The Intrafraternity and Panhellenic Councils, along with the UK Campus Habitat Chapter, are working to get the build done by Thanksgiving,” said Seth Fortenbery, vice president of community outreach IFC. “We are hoping that the Player family will have Thanksgiving dinner in their new home.”


In conjunction with the building of the house, the Panhellenic and Interfraternity councils are teaming up to create a Homecoming float that models the Habitat house they are working on. A miniature replica of the house, the float will be part of the Homecoming parade, which begins at 7 o'clock tonight in downtown Lexington.


On build days, Thursday, Friday and Saturday of each week, approximately 15 volunteers are on the site along with Player, her family and friends. “Students can make dreams become a reality. As long as the Habitat program has volunteers, they can continue to make dreams come true for other people,” Player said.


“You have to be blessed to have people show up to help you without knowing anything about you or where you came from,” Cobb said. “These students are examples of what the whole community needs, as well as the whole world.”


Anyone interested in helping the project can contact either Liz Brinker by email at or Seth Fortenbery at  


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