Building Community While Building a Home

Katie Gnirrep

Katie Gnirrep
Katie Gnirrep RSC ’18 spent the summer in Oregon, volunteering at a summer camp run by a social service agency in Portland and at a Habitat for Humanity site in Corvallis. Her trip was supported by the Doris Adams Ferguson ’53 Memorial Endowed Student Fellowship for Sociology and will inform her research into the feminization of poverty.

“This is the idea that there is a growing number of women in poverty due to the wage gap, separation from a spouse who was the bread winner, being given most of the custody of children after a divorce and many other factors,” she said. “This opportunity allowed me to see concepts I learned in the classroom in real life and try to make a difference in society,” Gnirrep continued, specifically mentioning getting to know a single mother of four as they worked together to build a safe, affordable home for the woman and her family.

Gnirrep, who aspires to volunteer with the Peace Corps or AmeriCorps after graduation, said the highlight of her experience was collaborating with people from so many different backgrounds – the single mom working her way out of poverty, a grandfather and teenage grandson from North Carolina, a recently retired couple on a cross-country road trip from Philadelphia, a 32-year old in the midst of a move to Utah, and a mother and daughter who have celebrities in their Los Angeles neighborhood – to complete a big project. “We were all so different but we had one goal: build a house for a family who really needs it.  We grew to be fast friends.”