PROFILE: Service Has Been A Lifelong Calling For This UC Student

If Anne Fitzgerald’s ambition leads her to travel around the world – it won’t be to the swankiest tourist spots or to the companies offering the most desired perks, but instead to the areas that desperately need her help. They would be places where she’d pitch a tent for her lodging and then pitch in on providing assistance.

This chemistry and anthropology major is a student coordinator for the University of Cincinnati Center for Community Engagement, a center that matches the service of UC volunteers with dozens of area community service agencies. Anne is also committee co-chair of the UC/Habitat for Humanity project in Mt. Auburn, where volunteers are spending their Saturdays building a new home for a local mother and her two children.

Hailing from Greenville, Ohio, “The same city as Annie Oakley,” she chuckles, Anne says service was just a part of her early childhood experience. “My mom worked at a nursing home, and so I was doing activities with the nursing home residents back when I was in fourth or fifth grade. When I had summers off from school, I would go there every day.”

Anne started volunteering with the UC Center for Community Engagement very early in her academic career at UC. In addition to her commitment to the local community, she has traveled to Mexico on her spring break, spending her free time building churches and schools.

“It’s the dedication of the students that make these projects come to fruition,” says William Harris, director of the UC Center for Community Engagement. “Anne is an extraordinary student who has the desire to see others move beyond their current environmental conditions. She does this while pursuing a very demanding academic program, and she still makes the time to serve the community ungrudgingly and with a servant leader’s heart.”

Anne Fitzgerald

Anne Fitzgerald

“There are all of these issues out there and the world just doesn’t revolve around whether you’re going to get an A in class. I don’t understand why students wouldn’t want to get involved,” Anne says.

Last year, Anne joined the AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps, a 10-month program devoted to civil service. She led a team of 18-24-year-olds on projects that included assisting Red Cross disaster teams in southern Texas last year, after floods ravaged the area. Anne helped the Red Cross determine losses as a result of the floods.

Her AmeriCorps service also had her working on an organic farm before she got involved with Habitat for Humanity in Taos, N.M., where she helped build a ranch-style home.

“We built a Habitat house with Adobe brick – mud brick with mud mortar. The home also had Vega-style beams. Those are beams that go across the house. We’d go out in the woods and cut down the trees and make the beams.” She also worked with Habitat in San Antonio.

In exchange for the work for Americorps, Anne was awarded funding toward her college education. She also took a student job with the Center for Community Engagement when she returned to Cincinnati last winter.

It was her work with Habitat that fueled her interest in organizing and co-chairing the first university-wide project with Habitat for Humanity. UC students, faculty and staff are all invited to join the volunteer effort at the site, located at 111 Winkler St. in Mt. Auburn.

The Smith family

The Smith family

Construction of the two-story, three-bedroom home began on Sept. 27, as part of Habitat for Humanity’s “Women Building a Legacy Initiative,” meant to raise awareness of substandard housing nationwide and its effects on children. This means 51 percent of the labor will be provided by UC female volunteers.

The volunteers will be working from 8 a.m.-3 p.m. each Saturday through the fall and winter quarters to complete the house, then cleanup will take place from 3-3:30 p.m.

 Beginning at 7:30 a.m., shuttles take the UC volunteers from campus to the construction site on Winkler Street. Anne has often been behind the wheel, transporting volunteers and picking up breakfast and lunch to provide at the site.

Volunteers can board the shuttles from 7:30-8:30 a.m. in the parking lot behind the Alumni Center. Volunteer forms can be downloaded from the UC/Habitat for Humanity Web site.

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