Golden Circle Alumni partner with students to build new Habitat home for refugee family

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A group of Lipscomb University alumni have banded together to let students know that volunteer service isn’t just a nice thing to do while they are in college – it’s a lifelong pursuit.
The Golden Circle Alumni, representing alumni who graduated from Lipscomb 50 years ago or more, provided funding this year to allow the current students at Lipscomb to complete a Habitat for Humanity home in Nashville.
The Munyaneza Jean-Bosco and Niragira Claudine Family
Lipscomb executive Jim Thomas outside the Habitat house.
Rep. Jim Cooper at the Habitat dedication.
The alumni provided the needed funding, and the students provided the manpower, traveling for two weekends to the Timberwood neighborhood to construct a new home for the Munyaneza Jean-Bosco and Niragira Claudine family, local refugees from Tanzania.
The project is the first in an ongoing effort by Golden Circle Alumni to partner with students in projects that would benefit the student body and bring glory to God, said Amy Hamar, alumni relations manager.
There had been interest among the student body in building a Habitat home in 2009, but funding was not available. So the Golden Circle members spent the past year raising the funds needed to complete one home in Timberwood. About 75 students participated in constructing the home, which was dedicated in a special ceremony by Habitat for Humanity on Sept. 19.
“The older I get the more committed I get to doing things for the Lord that have to do with evangelism and Mathew 25,” said Archie Crenshaw (’57), of Bishop, Ga., the chairperson of the Golden Circle. “This was a Mathew 25 opportunity and a great opportunity for the alumni to see the enthusiasm of the students and give them the opportunity to see that that enthusiasm doesn’t necessarily go away because you get older.”
“The generosity of Golden Circle alumni shows our student body that even for our alumni who are 50 to 60 years removed from the campus, there is still something special in the connection you make at Lipscomb. The friends you make here are lifelong friends and the commitment to service our students make lasts a lifetime,” Hamar said. “Lipscomb really is for life.”
The Lipscomb Habitat home is owned by Munyaneza Jean-Bosco and Niragira Claudine, who have three daughters aged four, 10 and 12. Bosco has worked at Bordeaux Long Term Care as a certified nurse technician since 2009. Claudine has worked at SMS as a line employee since 2007. Before moving to Timberwood, they lived in an apartment in an unsafe neighborhood where the girls couldn’t play outside.
The Golden Circle Habitat project is just one of many service opportunities Lipscomb offers its students. For Habitat for Humanity specifically, Lipscomb sends a group annually to build homes in Robbins, Tenn., and has undertaken fundraising to fund the construction of those homes. Groups of students also traditionally work in Nashville’s Habitat Home Store during annual service days.
Lipscomb was recently ranked 65th in the nation in the Washington Monthly rankings, designed specifically to measure how a university gives back to its community by providing social mobility to low-income students, volunteer service opportunities and research advancements.
Lipscomb’s high ranking was due in large part to the university’s large number of student service hours, which Washington Monthly ranked as the third highest in the nation in the master’s category. The number of hours was taken from Lipscomb’s application to the President’s Community Service Honor Roll, which reported 121,910 in student service hours in the 2008-09 school year.
Lipscomb has also been included on the President’s Community Service Honor Roll for the past three years.
“Selfless service is ingrained in Lipscomb students from the first week they are on campus. Before classes even begin, students are asked to participate in a service day during freshman orientation,” said Christin Shatzer, director of the university’s SALT (Serving and Learning Together) Program, which coordinates the university’s service-learning graduation requirement.
The SALT program is designed to integrate students’ areas of study and professional goals into community engagement, setting a direction for their future integration of life, work and community.