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Count Us In: Assumption Students Partner With Worcester Housing Group

Wednesday, November 14, 2012


Assumption students outside the property at 3 Benefit Terrace.

GoLocalWorcester presents a special series brought to you by Harvard Pilgrim Healthcare. This series will highlight some of the most unique partnerships in Central Mass and reinforce the message of Harvard Pilgrim's "Count Us In" campaign: "Amazing things happen when people work together."

Community service is a huge part of life for many Assumption students, and members of the school's Reach Out Center (ROC) have partnered with local non-profit Matthew 25 to rehabilitate abandoned houses and turn them into low-income housing for working families.

The Partnership

Started last academic year by junior William Rein, the ROC's partnership with Matthew 25 now has 15 volunteers that work tirelessly two Saturdays every month to turn abandoned houses into new neighborhood gems. Rein is proud that he has been able to successfully grow the program from just two students at its founding, but he takes more pride in the fact that these efforts are directly impacting Worcester families.

“Through our work in rehabilitating these rundown homes, Assumption students are benefiting Worcester families,” Rein said.

“We are immersing ourselves in these neighborhoods; we’re talking with families and kids who live in the neighborhood, getting to know them, and getting to know the neighborhood beyond the yard we’re working in. It’s not only hard physical work, but it’s also hard emotional work, because you can see how other people are struggling. This is their life every single day, not just on the Saturdays we’re there.”

Matthew 25's Mission

Founded in 1988 by Rev. Fred M. Enman, S.J., Matthew 25 aims to provide food and housing relief to people in need. The private non-profit organization purchases and renovates houses in Worcester, as well as Boston. To date, Matthew 25 has renovated and rented nine houses in Worcester to go with one so far in Boston.

Students from Assumption assist Matthew 25 workers with interior demolition, painting, staining, and landscaping. When the houses are completed, Matthew 25 rents them to low-income working families at about 25 percent of the new residents' income. Rein adds that you don't have to venture far from Assumption's campus to see that families in Worcester need help.

"It’s a five minute drive away. It’s right here,” he said, adding, “We can’t avoid this problem."

Multiple Projects

The current house students are working on is located at 3 Benefit Terrace, and Rein believes this house is large enough for an entire family. The goal is to have the house completed by the end of 2013, to go with houses already completed on Birch and Chatam Streets in Worcester.

“Through this observance, students will gain greater awareness of the complexity and the issues that are connected to hunger and homelessness,” said Carleen Roy-Butler, Assumption’s director of the Reach Out Center.

“We also hope that they become more empathic and realize the inherent dignity of the hungry and homeless in the city. People who are hungry and homeless are still very much marginalized, but hopefully by raising awareness, we can increase students’ understanding of their struggle and the importance of their humanity."

For more information on Assumption's ROC, click here. To read more about the work of Matthew 25, click here.


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