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Drexel Students: Building Better Communities

February 14, 2012

Drexel students volunteer with The Other Carpenter

A group of Drexel students volunteer their time with The Other Carpenter, a West Philadelphia non-profit housing ministry that offers home-repair assistance to residents.

Sam Emory, a fourth-year architecture student, has been planning and designing different types of buildings throughout his academic coursework at Drexel. It wasn’t until his involvement with The Other Carpenter (TOC), a nonprofit housing ministry operating in communities of West Philadelphia, that he was able to bridge the gap between architecture and construction while simultaneously helping local homeowners.

Emory is one of many architecture students who volunteer their time with TOC to offer home repair assistance for low-moderate income homeowners who reside the local Mantua neighborhood.

“We can all play our part to make the bridge between us and the community a little better,” says Emory, who recently helped fix up a house on 41st Street.

Emory said his hands-on volunteer experience for TOC is also bridging the gap between architecture and construction.

“For [architecture majors] everything is a drawing. If you see it and tangibly work on it, it will improve drawings and make them more than just one dimensional,” says Emory, member of the American Institute of Architecture Students (AIAS) Drexel chapter.

For TOC projects, students volunteer their time and homeowners are asked to pay for 50 percent of material costs, which TOC will match. This year Drexel’s Vice Provost of Community Partnerships Lucy Kerman is providing a $5,000 grant to help existing homeowners pay for material costs.

“We’re very interested in supporting existing homeowners in Mantua. People have lived here for generations and it’s a high priority for them to be able to continue living there. Our vision is to improve the quality of life in local neighborhoods and The Other Carpenter is one program that helps us to fulfill that vision,” says Kerman.

Kerman also cited other community service organizations that share similar missions to TOC including Rebuilding Together Philadelphia and Habitat for Humanity.

The Other Carpenter is connected to Bryn Mawr Presbyterian, which has had a mission in the Parkside neighborhood for years. All volunteers are taught some housing skills which enable them to make an important contribution to the project. Drexel AIAS chapter’s next TOC volunteer opportunity is March 1. For more information, click here.

--Stephanie Takach, University Communications