Senior gift? Gazebo renovation by the GOLD service project.

Class of 2008’s class gift in Seton Hill University’s (SHU) lawn was refurbished Saturday, during homecoming weekend. The service project to fix up the gazebo was put together by Sean Garrity, ’08, service committee chair of GOLD.

Sean Garrity Prepares to put another coat of stain on the gazebo.
Sean Garrity Prepares to put another coat of stain on the gazebo.

“GOLD is alumni who have graduated within 10 years. It’s a great way to get everyone together,” Garrity said, covered in paint from the 5K Color Run that took place earlier that day.

GOLD stands for Graduates of the Last Decade.

“It is mostly through Sean’s work and students through Habitat,” said Darren Achtezhn, a supporter of Gold alumni and in community service. “Most of us are habitat students who have volunteered through the years. So they know about selfless service.”

“When they are returning home from homecoming, we want to do service projects,” Achtezhn also said.

According to Achtezhn, GOLD looked at a couple different things when thinking about the service project for this year.

“We walked up across the lawn the other day and kind of looked at the gazebo, “ Achtezhn said. “I said that thing could really use a fresh coat of staining, it had some holes in the floor, some pieces that were a little rickety so can we replace those, put some new pieces in, and he thought that was a wonderful piece for a service project.”

Achtezhn mentioned that he always saw a group of students in and around the gazebo. “We made a modification and took the back entrance out, because it was boxed in, so now it would be like a walk through,” included Achtezhn.

The new back entrance to the gazebo will give students more access.
The new back entrance to the gazebo will give students more access.

Not only was an entrance made, the group re-stained the picnic table, stained and secured the gazebo, replaced some broken boards, took care of the plants around the outer parts and removed the dry leaves that were around it.

“If you saw it before, the walls were all kind of spreading across the bottom because we never fastened it to the floor when we built it,” Achtezhn said, “So now we have pushed it, pulled it, drawn it back together and even fastened it.”

“We did decide not to paint it. It is made out of cedar, which is weather worn and we thought, no, maybe we should just stain it,” Achtezhn said. “It needs to not look new, it needs to look refurbished. If we paint it, we are going to find ourselves in four, five years coming back and scraping chipped paint.”

As well as working on the gazebo, alumni greeted current students and caught up with old friends.

Jimmy Pirlo, ’07, said the project was a really nice idea and he had a lot of fun working on it. He also said that it was nice to give back to the school.

Shannon Davis, ’05, said, “The Gazebo had been through a lot of crazy weather. I was glad to be able to help.”

Kelly Hollis, Kirstin Logan and Darren Achtezhn worked with the saws. The gazebo had boards that needed replaced.
Kelly Hollis, Kirstin Logan and Darren Achtezhn worked with the saws. The gazebo had boards that needed replaced.

Kelly Hollis, ’15, and Kirstin Logan, ’10, were working with the saws. Hollis said the project was a good thing that helps beautify the school. “I also love the excuse to use power tools!”

From 9 a.m. to noon there were alumni coming to help from a variety of classes ranging from ’69 to ’15.

According to Achtezhn, they looked at a couple of other things that could potentially be future projects. For example, the shrubbery around the bank down by the field. Also, since a lot of athletic players are coming back for homecoming, GOLD considered the press box that needed finishing.

“We looked in admin and inside the building. Even if it is as simple as painting a section of a wall,” Achtezhn said. “Our maintenance department does a fantastic job but there are sometimes some little things that need just a little fresh coat of paint.”

GOLD does many projects in addition to what the homecoming service project committee does.

“Every other year GOLD does a habitat trip. Past one was to North Carolina and was there for a week,” said Patrick Thomas, associate director of the annual fund. “There was a total of 16 people.”

“We got to do new builds, we got to build houses, and they present the houses to families and you know, it’s a pretty awesome experience,” Thomas said. “It was only the second one, undergraduates responded so well to it so we started doing it for alumni and they responded too.”

The gazebo received a fresh coat of stain.

“A lot of people, when they think habitat, they think building a free house. That’s not how it works,” Thomas said. “They offer no interest mortgages to families that need it.”

“Sometimes they’ll do updates and builds for free based off of donations,” Thomas said, “But it’s really dependent on volunteers and support.”

Thomas said, “Most of the time, any cost is just time, there’s a ton of organization.” Thomas also said that their service is usually welcomed and sometimes they even get lunch out of it. “The only fees would be for housing or travelling.”

The final product of GOLD alumni's hard work.
The final product of GOLD alumni’s hard work.

“I know that the baseball team always does stuff too,” said Thomas. “They are trying to go to habitat too. It’s a big habitat culture here.”

“I would recommend the trip if you ever get the chance to,” Thomas said. “There’s an undergraduate trip and an alumni trip and it’s pretty awesome. We were all sad when we came back.”

According to Thomas, Garrity always has different things GOLD can do. Labor of Love was one of the last events they participated in. Garrity is trying to have a regular volunteer day each month as well as get a team together to get regular service opportunities going. “That’s what most young alumni want to do,” Thomas said.

“They are opening up central Westmoreland habitat for humanity in Greensburg.,” Thomas said, “Among other things, we are trying to get involved that way too.”

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