Iota Phi Theta’s generosity pushes on

Iota Phi Theta Fraternity

The brothers of Iota Phi Theta fraternity

By: Marco Rodriguez | Published October 22, 2015

Iota Phi Theta, a well-known fraternity at Kean that made news last semester for undertaking a project to build a family a home in Newark, is finally making strides towards making that goal a reality.

Since The Tower last reported on the fraternity’s initiative last April, the fraternity was able to get approval for their blueprints from the city of Newark.

This, according to fraternity member Tosin Oduwole, was the first step in a journey that will eventually see a single mother and her child receive a new home.

“As any home builder can tell you, the blueprint approval is the longest process in building a home,” Oduwole said. “You have to take into account the size of the land, the height allowed by the zoning board, and where the plumbing and electrical will run through the home.

“That’s a task that takes lots of time and it was definitely a learning process.”

Back when the initiative made news on campus in the spring, the fraternity established a GoFundMe profile where they began raising cash donations for the project. The website reports donations of over $6,900 towards the $150,000 goal the fraternity has set towards the project.

According to Oduwole, in addition to the cash donations on GoFundMe, the brothers have raised $35,000 in services from companies that are going to donate construction services. While the goal may seem daunting, Oduwole and his brothers are not backing down from the challenge.

With the blueprints having recently received approval, the fraternity now has less than 18 months to break ground according to the guidelines established by the city of Newark.

“We aren’t scared or dismayed by large goals,” Oduwole said. “The way you do amazing things is to aim high. We will not stop the project until it is done, so there is no planning for failure.”

While the fraternity is hesitant to set an exact date as to when the 2,700 square foot prefabricated home will be done, considering construction variables like weather and zoning changes, the brothers are optimistic that if they meet their funding goal they may begin construction by late November of this year. According to Oduwole, the single mother and her son are still at the shelter in East Orange and are cooperating as they wait for construction to begin on their new home.

The fraternity has spread the news about their initiative through email campaigns, social media, and word of mouth. Additionally, Oduwole reports that Kean University will be launching an official campus campaign to support the initiative once all of the group’s permits are approved and the brothers are given the green light to begin building.

The initiative to build the family a home came after the brothers took on an “outside of the box” approach towards community service that would bring about lasting change. The group inquired for hours and studied their options, before discovering the Valentine’s Day land sale that the city of Newark was holding back in February of this year.

The sale, which offered couples of any sexual orientation a vacant lot for $1,000, was the opportunity the brothers needed for their project. Once purchased, the fraternity began working alongside Sierra House, an East Orange nonprofit that helps at risk women, to find a family for the home that they will eventually build.

Oduwole and his girlfriend stepped forward to be the couple that would purchase the property on 17th street in Newark that Saturday in February of this year. Every member of the fraternity donated money, and eventually the group purchased the lot and moved on with their venture.

The fraternity plans on building a two family home where one side can be rented and the other will go to the needy family. Additionally, according to Oduwole, the rent of the one unit will cover all utilities, property taxes and maintenance of the property.

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