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A lasting memorial -- Habitat for Humanity Int'l 1

A lasting memorial


Virginia Tech alumni gather for an annual Habitat build day.


In April 2007, a student at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech) killed 32 people on campus and wounded many others. In the aftermath of the tragedy, school administrators established an annual volunteering event as a memorial and vehicle of healing.

“The alumni association already had a relationship with Habitat where they would volunteer once a year,” says Brenda Rockwell, director of public relations for Habitat for Humanity of New Castle County. “When the university administration put out a call for a way to bring good out of tragedy, you can look at Habitat and see that every day we are trying to bring forth good from tragedy. Naturally that became a good fit.”

Each year since the shooting, an alumnus of the university who serves on the affiliate’s board of directors has helped organize a build day for Virginia Tech alumni both recent and from years past. Depending on construction needs, 15 to 20 alumni gather on an April Saturday to build together, helping a local family work toward the dream of a safe place to live.

“It’s a wonderful opportunity that the alumni association chose New Castle County in particular,” Rockwell says. “We get a chance to reinvent tragedy and showcase triumph one more time.”