As members of Alpha Sigma Tau, we continually rededicate ourselves to contribute our share to the progress of mankind and philanthropy is a vital aspect of our lives and our sisterhood — our way of expressing concern for others. Alpha Sigma Tau chapters have traditionally supported educational efforts, especially those in poor and rural communities.
The interest in establishing a national endeavor program came about through two of our past National Presidents, Dorothy Robinson and Mary Alice Peterson, during the 1970s.
Alpha Sigma Tau Sorority supports Pine Mountain Settlement School, located in Harlan County, Kentucky, as our National Philanthropy. At its founding, Pine Mountain Settlement School was a leader in rural educational standards, such as establishing a forerunner to the now famous Head Start curriculum. Today, Pine Mountain Settlement School serves as an environmental education center and provides educational outreach services, such as summer reading camps and after-school tutoring, to the poverty stricken Appalachian community.
In June 2002, Alpha Sigma Tau added a National Service Project to expand the mission in contributing to the progress of mankind. Habitat for Humanity was selected, as it reflected our values of being Active, Self-reliant, and Trustworthy.
PINE MOUNTAIN SETTLEMENT SCHOOL
Alpha Sigma Tau members support the Pine Mountain Settlement School in Harlan County, Kentucky as the National Philanthropy through the National Foundation. The Pine Mountain Settlement School opened its doors in 1913 with a few children and teachers and a wealth of community support. Due to its mountainous terrain, Pine Mountain offered a boarding school opportunity so children of all ages could receive book learning, as well as an education for life. Since its inception, Pine Mountain Settlement School has continued to expand the curriculum to meet the growing needs of the Appalachian population. It now focuses its efforts on providing environmental education programs to children of the area and visitors from across the nation. Pine Mountain Settlement School continues to serve the current needs of children by providing an intervention program which offers tutorial services to help students maintain their required academic achievement levels.
Alpha Sigma Tau has supported the Pine Mountain Settlement School since 1945 through the financial contributions of its members. Contributions are made through the National Foundation by collegiate and alumnae chapters and individuals. Additionally, Alpha Sigma Tau collegiate and alumnae members can give of their time and talents by working at Pine Mountain Settlement School and helping to advance the purposes of the school.
With additional National Foundation contributions, the following are some of Alpha Sigma Tau’s sponsored projects: purchase of major equipment, renovation of campus buildings, purchase of a fifteen-passenger van, and most recently, the endowment of the Pine Mountain Settlement School Intervention Program Fund. These projects support the Pine Mountain Settlement School as it maintains its successful programs and expands the opportunities available to the area.
Alpha Sigma Tau donations are also used to purchase library and audio-visual materials for the Pine Mountain Center. In appreciation of these donations, each item carries a bookplate designating it as a gift from a specific collegiate or alumnae chapter. These bookplates are nature prints designated by Gwen Frostic, a well-known nature artist, environmentalist, and Alpha Sigma Tau.
HABITAT FOR HUMANITY
At Alpha Sigma Tau’s National Convention in June 2004, Alpha Sigma Tau expanded its horizons and officially adopted Habitat for Humanity as a National Service Project. This expansion was based on two years of research conducted by a team of sisters representing collegians, alumnae and staff. During the new member education period, the collegiate members will become educated on the mission of Habitat for Humanity and how it models our creed of contributing our share to the progress of mankind. Sisters will perform yearly working projects for their local Habitat for Humanity affiliates.
What is Habitat for Humanity International?
Habitat for Humanity International is a nonprofit, ecumenical Christian housing ministry. HFHI seeks to eliminate poverty housing and homelessness from the world and to make decent shelter a matter on conscience and action. Habitat invites people from all walks of life to work together in partnership to help build houses with families in need.
It is estimated that 25% of the world’s population is living in substandard housing or have no housing at all. Families are trapped in a daily struggle to survive amidst horrible, often inhumane, living conditions. As of today, Habitat has built more than 100,000 homes around the world, providing some 500,000 people in more than 2,000 communities with safe, decent, affordable shelter. Habitat was founded in 1976 by Millard Fuller and his wife Linda.
In freeing families from the unending struggles that accompany inadequate shelter, Habitat houses open the door to increased self-esteem and self-reliance. And, in turn, families can devote more attention to job opportunities, education, and health. As the crushing cycle of poverty is broken, their children benefit, their neighborhoods change for the better, and entire communities improve.
How does it work?
Through volunteer labor and donations of money and materials, Habitat builds and renovates simple, decent houses with the help of the homeowner (partner) families. Habitat houses are sold to partner families at no profit, financed with affordable no-interest loans.
The homeowners’ monthly mortgage payments go into a revolving Fund for Humanity that is used to build more houses. Habitat carries out its mission at the community level through organized groups called affiliates.
Habitat is not a giveaway program. Families in need of decent shelter apply to local Habitat affiliates. The affiliate’s family selection committee chooses homeowners based on their level of need, their willingness to become partners in the program and their ability to repay the no-interest loan. Every affiliate follows a non-discriminatory policy of family selection. Neither race nor religion is a factor in choosing homeowner families.
Habitat houses are affordable for low-income families because there is no profit included in the sale price and no interest charged on the mortgage. Mortgage length varies from seven to 30 years. In addition to a down payment and the monthly mortgage payments, homeowners invest hundreds of hours of their own labor — sweat equity — into building their house and the houses of others.
How does Habitat work with the government?
Habitat does not accept government funds for the construction of new houses or for the renovation or repair of existing houses. Habitat does accept government funds for the acquisition of land or houses in need of rehabilitation. Habitat also accepts government funds for streets, utilities, and administrative expenses.
How does Alpha Sigma Tau assist Habitat for Humanity?
Alpha Sigma Tau collegiate and alumnae members volunteer annually with Habitat for Humanity affiliates. We work directly with the leaders of Habitat for Humanity in determining the need of the community and our mission is to assist in filling the need. Some chapters actively swing a hammer while others donate food/water or provide meals for the volunteers. Still others assist with fundraising efforts or awareness projects.
Want additional information?
For more information on Habitat for Humanity, International, visit http://www.habitat.org.