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Alumni volunteer to build house for fellow alumnus

MORRISVILLE, N.Y.— Richard Insel, Morrisville State College class of ’02, has a dream.

His fellow alumni are helping to make it come true.

On Saturday, Nov. 12, they will be part of a community effort to build a house for Insel and his family; wife, Tanya, and their three children, Patrick, 9, Veronica, 8, and Thomas, 2. The home is located on Huntington Camp Road in West Eaton.

Morrisville alumni who are interested in helping out are invited to the work site from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Reservations are required for a complimentary lunch which will be provided by Dinosaur Barbeque.

A chorus of hammers and construction equipment has been echoing at Insel’s future home since July.
The home is being built by volunteers through the Madison County chapter of Habitat for Humanity, a non-profit organization that builds affordable housing for people who need it.

Many Morrisville alumni volunteers don’t know Insel or his family, but that won’t stop them from pitching in.

Nor will their level of experience.

“I only have a little experience with remodeling from owning my own home, but whatever they need, I am willing to do,” said volunteer Cheryl Church (class of ’83), of Bouckville, whose husband, Rich (class of ’75), is also helping.

The house will be a new beginning for Insel, one he is already embarking on. A graduate of Morrisville’s liberal arts program, Insel is working toward his bachelor degree in elementary education at SUNY Cortland while working part-time.

The Insels currently reside in an apartment in Morrisville but that will hopefully change by Christmas thanks to the generosity of volunteers including Morrisville alumna, Judy Parker, class of ’67. Parker is also a member of the board of directors for the Madison County chapter of Habitat for Humanity.

“I see this as a wonderful partnership,” Parker said. “Morrisville State College nurtures the mindset that volunteerism is part of the college experience, and a lifelong commitment to giving back is good for both Habitat for Humanity and the Alumni Association.”

“We are happy to be involved,” Jessica Moquin, coordinator of Alumni Affairs, said. “This is a wonderful service opportunity that encourages alumni to work together.”

The requirements for volunteers are quite simple; no experience necessary, just a willingness to help.

Right now, the trusses are being placed on the roof of the ranch-style home located in a beautifully wooded area selected by the family. But there is still so much left to do.

“We have a job for everyone regardless of their experience,” Parker said. “As long as there is a desire to help, there is a job. Skill is not as important as the desire to make a change.”

You name it, they’re needed; from volunteers with electrical experience to those willing to pound nails.

“No job is without value,” Parker said. “Everyone who participates plays an important role in seeing the dream the Insel family has of owning their first home become a reality.”

There’s a lot of behind-the-scenes work, too. Habitat is always looking for people to help with fundraising, scheduling volunteers, and even supporting fellow volunteers by providing meals.

Habitat for Humanity makes it easier for families to obtain affordable housing, not by offering them a free home, but by helping them with costs like interest-free mortgages.

The Insels were chosen by a family selection committee because they met three specific criteria: they had a critical need for housing, the ability to pay a no-interest loan, and a willingness to put in 500 required hours, or “sweat equity,” to help build their own house and/or assist with additional outreach projects through Habitat, Parker said.

Donated resources and financial contributions keep Habitat for Humanity going, but none of the organization’s work would be possible without the efforts of the people who make the project come together—volunteers.

“Volunteering for Habitat is a wonderful experience,” Parker said. “Every volunteer you talk to will say they received more from the volunteer experience than they ever gave.”

“It feels good to be helping and giving something back to the community,” Cheryl Church said. “It’s a very gratifying experience.”

Alumni interested in helping on Nov. 12 are asked to call the Morrisville State College Alumni Office and confirm lunch reservations at 1-800-462-4723 or e-mail

For directions to the building site, call Madison County Habitat for Humanity at 866-751-6340.

Habitat for Humanity International, based in Americus, Ga., is an ecumenical Christian ministry that welcomes all people dedicated to the cause of building affordable housing and eliminating poverty housing. Since 1976, Habitat has built more than 200,000 houses in nearly 100 countries, providing simple, decent and affordable shelter for more than one million people.

Morrisville State College offers 12 bachelor degrees and a wide variety of associate degrees and options. Considered to be one of the most technologically advanced colleges in the nation for its ThinkPad University program and wireless technology initiative, the college recently became the first in the nation to comprehensively replace landlines in residence halls with individual cellular phones. Morrisville State College was also chosen as one of the top five colleges in the nation for campus activities by Campus Activities magazine. The Morrisville State College Norwich Campus offers programs in business, transfer, technologies, liberal arts/education transfer, and nursing to Chenango County area residents and employers.