Social justice commitment rings true as residence halls get remodelled

Photo/Mike Lovett
When students moved into their newly renovated rooms in the Rosenthal, North, and Ziv residence halls last week, few probably wondered what happened to the old furnishings. If they were curious, all they had to do was ask Sofia Lavrentyeva ’17.
Lavrentyeva, a campus coordinator for Habitat for Humanity, could tell them how she found a new use for the furnishings.
Last spring, when Lavrentyeva learned about the residence halls renovation plans, she contacted the Department of Community Living with an idea to donate the usable items to a local non-profit.
With the approval of Tim Touchette, director of Community Living, and working with Habitat for Humanity, Lavrentyeva arranged for nearly two hundred sets of beds, dressers, nightstands and desk chairs to be delivered to Household Goods in Acton, Mass., which provides donated furniture and household items, free of charge, to help people in need.
“Sofia took the lead on this, getting in touch with me and making all the necessary connections with resource recovery groups aligned with Habitat for Humanity,” Touchette said. “She’s a rock star.”
Touchette said Brandeis has donated furniture to organizations but not to Habitat for Humanity. “They sent out three full-sized trailers and we ended filling them all,” Touchette explained. “We gave them more than we thought we could give them—so they were very happy.”
Lavrentyeva, a native of Cromwell, CT, oversees the more than 80 students who give their time to Habitat for Humanity each year. She said she was touched by the reactions of those she helped at Household Goods.
““I walked around the warehouse after the furniture was delivered and you get a sense of who these people are,” said Lavrentyeva, who is majoring in neuroscience. “At the end of it they were so grateful. It’s very moving, providing people with what they need to survive.”
Touchette also noted that Brandeis is developing a capital improvements calendar to show when buildings have been, and are due to be, remodeled.
In the case of Rosenthal, the two buildings in North and the two buildings in Ziv, the remodeling was almost full scale.
“Rosenthal looks completely different, Cable and Reitman are full remodels, and Ziv 127 and 128 were full cosmetic recoveries,” Touchette said. “The colors are brighter. There’s furniture—all new desks, mattresses and carpeting. We did some work on the lobbies, too.”
Touchette said the Department of Community Living has deep ties to the university’s commitment to social justice. “In every little thing we do, we think not only about how we’re affecting Brandeis but also how we’re affecting the broader community,” Touchette said. “This effort was definitely along those lines.”

Categories: General, Student Life

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