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King University Tennis Team Lends a Helping Hand

BRISTOL, Tenn., March 28, 2017 – Six members of King University’s tennis team recently volunteered with Habitat for Humanity. The students spent a day helping to build a home in Glade Springs, Va., for a family in need. The student volunteers were unique in that none are from the continental United States; the six students are from Canada, Costa Rica, Germany, Mexico, and Puerto Rico.

King senior and Chemistry major Marianne Hull is a native of Costa Rica. For her, the experience was enlightening. “I didn’t expect to find [many] people in need. Overall, it was an international group volunteering to help an American family. I was used to it being the other way around. I was impacted by the willingness of my teammates to help and the staff of Habitat for Humanity. I was impressed by the love the staff puts into building these houses. They were really patient; they took time to teach us how to use the tools. It just felt good to give some of our time to build something as necessary as a house. It is amazing what [Habitat] is doing and how they are helping the community. It's definitely an example of what Christianity is all about. It made me think about the importance of giving back to the community with the gifts and blessings that we have.”

Habitat for Humanity simply states their goal as a charitable organization. “At Habitat for Humanity we build. We build because we believe that everyone, everywhere, should have a healthy, affordable place to call home. More than building homes, we build communities, we build hope and we build the opportunity for families to help themselves.”

King Tennis Team Head Coach Mariia Ilina is a native of Ukraine. She came to the United States in 2003 to play tennis at ETSU and now considers Northeast Tennessee home. “It is very important for King students [to volunteer] for several reasons. One, everyone knows about King University, but it is good to see King students do things out in the community. And two, it is a great experience for them. It is humbling to help someone out. Building a house, they learn things and also understand that someone is going to use it and appreciate it.”

Ilina added, “For students, it is important to remember there is a world outside campus. It is a great thing for [King students] because [volunteering] enriches their lives.”

Puerto Rico native Alejandro Feliciano is sophomore majoring in Nursing with a minor in Spanish. He said, “There is no better feeling than helping to make a positive impact on a person’s life when they are in need of help. The idea and goal of Habitat for Humanity is incredible. I had personally heard of projects and corporations that did something similar, but to be a part of one and help is a completely different experience. Being hands-on helps you realize where this family lived, what they lived through, and all the help they needed throughout that time. I absolutely loved the project and would definitely be interested in volunteering again.”

Another senior, Katya Cerny from Montreal, Canada, majoring in psychology and minoring in Spanish mentioned that “helping the community here opened my eyes to so many other places needing help including my own. Learning about what Habitat for Humanity does for people made me want to be more involved in volunteering projects. It is almost as if I established a relationship with the future family that will be living in the house we were helping to build. I felt like the work we were doing was important. This house will be a safe place - a place to raise children, a place to have family gatherings, a place where good memories will be created.”

Freshman Business major and Mexican native Leonardo Alfaro summed up the team’s experience. “Regardless of how much we worked, everything was worth it, because of the experience and because of helping a family in need.”

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King University is a Presbyterian-affiliated, doctoral-level comprehensive university. Founded in 1867 as King College, the University offers more than 90 majors, minors, pre-professional degrees and concentrations in fields such as business, nursing, law, medical and health sciences, pharmacy, education, and humanities. Graduate programs are offered in business administration, education, and nursing. A number of research, off-campus learning opportunities, and travel destinations are also available. King University is a NCAA Division II and a Conference Carolinas member with 25 varsity sports. For more information about King University, visit www.king.edu. King University does not discriminate against academically qualified students of any race, color, national or ethnic origin, sex, age, or disability. King University is certified by SCHEV to operate locations in Virginia. For more information on SCHEV certification, contact the King University office at Southwest Virginia Community College, 309 College Road, Richlands, VA 24641.