Habitat for Humanity Francis Hall Birdhouse

Alvernia Trustee Kunkel supports student experiential learning at Habitat for Humanity event

In alignment with Alvernia University's core value of service, engineering students and O'Pake Fellows, Robert Philpot, Kayla Moriarty, Gabriel Malek, and Jack Badalamenti designed, built and donated a birdhouse inspired by campus landmark, Francis Hall, for Habitat for Humanity of Berks County's largest charity event of the year.


"I definitely learned a lot of hands-on skills throughout the process of actually building the birdhouse," said Malek. "All of the craftsmanship that went into working with the wood and paint helped improve my own abilities for future endeavors. I also furthered my team-oriented work skills, staying communicative with the group to ensure we completed everything and delegating the work to optimize the process."


The Francis Hall birdhouse, alongside over 30 other birdhouses donated by community members in the Berks County area, was auctioned off to support the nonprofit. Alvernia Trustee Ginger Kunkel, president at Tompkins Financial Corporation, bid on the Francis Hall birdhouse and won.

President Glynis Fitzgerald Trustee Ginger Kunkel Habitat for Humaity charity event O'pake Fellows build birdhouse

President Glynis A. Fitzgerald Ph.D. and Trustee Kunkel with the engineering student fellow cohort and O'Pake team members Caitlin Long and Adonis Fleming.


"The enthusiasm displayed by the Alvernia students for replicating a beloved symbol of their school was inspiring, as was their determination to construct a work of art unique enough to raise meaningful dollars to really help the Habitat mission," said Kunkel. "The love and respect these students showed for each other, their school and their community made it an easy decision to bid. I loved seeing their overjoyed response to the contribution their work made possible."


Kunkel reflected that after spending time on campus interacting with the Alvernia leadership, faculty, students and alumni and the Bernadine Sisters since she was appointed to the board last year, the campus community's strong support system was evident. With that in mind, she made the decision to donate the birdhouse and take it "back home" on campus to inspire current and future Alvernia faculty, staff, and students.


"My favorite part of the project was witnessing the birdhouse being auctioned off and tying for first on the highest amount for the price in which it was auctioned," said Moriarity.


The O'Pake Fellows Program provides high-achieving undergraduate and graduate students at Alvernia University with the ability to work hands-on with entrepreneurs, small businesses, regional partners, and faculty through the SPARK Business Incubator. The highly qualified students who enter the program are provided with numerous hours of professional training and mentoring to prepare them to work with our clients. Once trained, they are partnered with specific clients to provide services that match their expertise. The students receive experiential learning opportunities from their work, learn from faculty and subject matter mentors, and deliver quality services to clients. 

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