Volunteers Give Back with Habitat for Humanity of Greater Lowell
By Ed Brennen
Standing in the middle of her kitchen on a recent Friday morning, Leona Roper was overcome with gratitude as she watched a dozen UMass Lowell students carefully install brand-new windows on the first floor of her family’s home.
“This is so amazing,” said Roper, who has raised three daughters in the Parker Street home over the past 16 years. “The windows were so old and drafty. These new windows look so nice. Now I’ll be good for the rest of my life.”
In what’s become a fall tradition, the 12 students were there on Oct. 16 thanks to the Accounting Society’s annual volunteer work with Habitat for Humanity of Greater Lowell. Another group of 12 students and faculty members are scheduled to volunteer at a second site on Nov. 13.
Accounting Society President Syndhia Mungalachetty, who was volunteering for the third consecutive year, sees it as an important way for the club to come together and give back to the community — while also learning valuable life skills.
“I learn different things every time. I did not think I’d be putting up windows today,” said Mungalachetty, who has also volunteered with Habitat for Humanity through her internship at accounting firm McGladrey, LLP. “And it’s so nice to be able to help someone like (Leona). She’s awesome.”
With 109 members this year, the Accounting Society is one of the largest student groups on campus. In addition to volunteer opportunities, Mungalachetty said the Accounting Society is actively planning and funding events that will benefit students pursuing a career in accounting. The group hosted speakers from the Big 4 accounting firms — PricewaterhouseCoopers, Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu, Ernst & Young, and KPMG — for the first time this year and is also holding informational forums like “De-mystify the CPA Exam
“It’s a great group. They are getting people involved,” said junior business administration major Jarad Seligman, who is new to the Accounting Society this year. Like Mungalachetty, Seligman also has worked with Habitat for Humanity in the past.
“You get to grow and give back,” Seligman said after helping to install the window over Roper’s kitchen sink. “You feel like you’re really contributing to something, and I like that.”
Senior accounting major Greg Stratton, who was volunteering for the second year, said it’s a good way for the university to strengthen its ties to the city.
“They let the school grow in this community, so it’s important that we give back to the city,” Stratton said. “And the homeowners are always appreciative. They know we’re not here just to be here. We want to help out.”
Mungalachetty, who plans to pursue her Master of Science in Accounting after graduating with a degree in business administration this December, knows the value that public accounting firms place on volunteer work.
And as she and her classmates worked together in Roper’s home on that Friday morning, surrounded by her family photos and a lifetime of memories, they saw firsthand just how much that volunteer work means.
“I’ve always told my girls they’ll always have a place to come home to, no matter what happens in life, because life is hard,” Roper said. “This has opened my eyes to a lot of different things. People helping and giving back to the community … it’s nice to see.”