Bush School, Habitat for Humanity sponsor home
Published: Monday, March 4, 2013
Updated: Monday, March 4, 2013 00:03
Current and former students of the Bush School — along with a number of faculty members — gathered Saturday to raise the walls of a five-bedroom Habitat for Humanity home in honor of former President George H.W. Bush and his wife, Barbara, for their many years of public service.
The project was initiated last April by Andy Card, active dean of the Bush School of Government and Public Service and former chief of staff to President George W. Bush. It required the students to raise $40,000 over the span of one year to build a home and new life for the Ybarra family, currently living in a crammed three-bedroom house with five children. The Bush school provided most of the volunteers for construction in addition to sponsoring the home financially.
Travis Stalcup, international affairs graduate student, is one of the heads of the project committee. Stalcup said the connection between the Bush School and Habitat for Humanity was a natural one.
“My wife, Rachel, is the director of development in Habitat for Humanity,” Stalcup said. “This, in addition to dean Card’s and other students’ involvement with the Habitat program, allowed us to naturally have a connection.”
Stalcup said the project was a good exercise to learn about philanthropy.
“I think fundraising is important for anybody to know how to do,” he said. “Many of us will be doing work similar to this professionally, and this project supplements to a habit of service.”
The other head of the project committee, Calen Caple — public service and administration graduate student — did not initially realize how difficult this project would actually be.
“We got off to a very slow start,” Caple said. “In December we only had $5,000 of the $40,000 dollar total, and the Feb. 15 deadline was approaching quickly.”
The current students reached out to former students in their fundraising efforts but, because the Bush School is so young, the pool of alumni is limited.
After Christmas, the students’ efforts began to reach their full potential. They raised nearly $4,000 through fundraising efforts, including a dodgeball tournament, trivia night and koozies sold on campus. Support for the project began to grow through social media — including a tweet sent from University President R. Bowen Loftin.
While the fundraising helped, a large portion of the funding came from Card himself, who promised to personally match the largest donation.
Caple described Card as having somewhat of a celebrity status within the school. Therefore, when Card challenged every student to raise $100 just weeks before the deadline, there was a large increase in funding.
Former President H.W. Bush also contributed financially to the cause regardless of the students pleads for him to refrain from doing so, simply because the project was in his honor.
Although President H.W. Bush was unable to attend the event on Saturday due to health issues, the students are hoping he and the former first lady will be at the unveiling of the house.
Stalcup said there were close to 120 donations total, with around 30 percent of those coming from students.
Andrew and Stephanie Ybarra attended the wall-raising on Saturday. Aside from expressing gratitude and thanks to all involved, they said they felt blessed to be in a home sponsored by the former president.
“I was so nervous I was shaking,” Andrew said. “We were very excited and proud to have a home associated with the president.”
This will be the third Habitat home in the Faith Subdivision affiliated with a Texas A&M project once it is completed in eight to 10 weeks. Aggie Habitat and Aggies for Christ have also sponsored two additional houses.
Card pronounced his respect for the students involved and said similar projects would be executed in the future.
“There is not a doubt in my mind that these types of efforts will be continued,” Card said. “We are the only school at A&M with service in our title. We’re all so proud to be part of the Aggieland experience and exemplify the core value of selfless service.”