Habitat chapter sets world record

By Jessica Barzilay

A team of Harvard-Westlake students helped surpass a world record by breaking ground on 24 houses in two minutes at the Habitat for Humanity “The American Dream” 5K Walk on Saturday Oct. 10. The event was documented by the Guinness Book of World Records.

The Harvard-Westlake chapter also received a $5,000 donation from the Southern California Gas Company for being the leading Fundraising Youth United Chapter.

The combined total of money raised under Harvard-Westlake’s name is enough to fund half of the construction of a home. Representative groups from other local high schools and universities and the casts of “Melrose Place” and “90210” began the construction to improve local substandard living conditions alongside the Harvard-Westlake volunteers, while Jimmy Kimmel served as master of ceremonies.

The walk marked the first official event of the Harvard-Westlake chapter of the international Habitat organization. Participants met at 9 a.m. in Pacoima, walked to the construction site and broke ground, then returned at 1 p.m. for a short awards ceremony hosted by the organization and a performance by YouTube performer Justin Lanning.

The purpose of the walk was to simultaneously gain a broader base of younger participants for the organization and to offer the newly instated Harvard-Westlake chapter a chance to get to know each other on site.

“It’s a fun day and a great way for the new chapter to gain camaraderie,” Jason Mohr ’11 said.

The Harvard-Westlake group participating in the walk included the chapter’s supervisor, history teacher Leslie Rockenbach, executive team, and volunteers. The executive group consists of Mohr, Melanie Borinstein ’11, Jordan Gavens ’12, Gabi Kuhn ’12, and team captain Cami de Ry ‘12.

“The walk is a way for kids to construct on site and also to be a part of something greater,” Mohr said.

The Harvard-Westlake chapter is planning another event Oct. 31, in which Harvard-Westlake volunteers are invited to visit a completed Habitat site and partake in holiday activities with the 62 children who live there.