‘McMurry Serves’ Habitat Build


Tonja Gray’s parents raised her to be servant-minded and then she passed that characteristic on to her children.

Saturday morning, Feb. 11, Gray joined other representatives of McMurry University in demonstrating their servant-minded spirit by helping paint a new Habitat for Humanity house on Plum Street. 

“I’m trying to continue to set that example,” Gray said.

The house-painting event was one of numerous projects included in the McMurry Serves initiative throughout February. Community service events are scheduled, or have been held, in Abilene, the Dallas-Fort Worth area, Houston, and communities in New Mexico. McMurry Serves is an annual tradition sponsored by the Alumni Association that includes alumni, students, faculty, staff, and families. 

Among those helping Saturday was Joel Ross, who served in the Army from 2006 to 2015 and is a senior psychology major at McMurry. He is on track to graduate in December. Ross has become a “professional volunteer” and student after taking a medical retirement from the miliary. He likes to serve the community and prefers volunteering to spending too much free time in front of the television.

“I have the time,” he said. “I feel like putting my money where my mouth is.” 

Tonja Gray, left, and Joel Ross, right, paint a Habitat for Humanity house Saturday morning, Feb. 11. The project was part of the McMurry Serves initiative sponsored each February by the McMurry Alumni Association. Photos by Loretta Fulton

The Habitat for Humanity project on Saturday was spearheaded by Jeff Scott, director of McMurry’s Servant Leadership Program. He wrote a grant proposal on behalf of the West Texas Homeless Network to be used for a Habitat for Humanity building project. The grant was awarded and the proceeds were used to help build the house on Plum Street. 

Scott also is working with Rosten Callarman, executive director of Abilene’s Habitat for Humanity office, to create a group of eight to ten students who would work with other similar groups to assist with a Habitat build. The various groups would be assigned particular jobs, like drywall or painting. Then, all would show up at the build site at an assigned time to do their job.

“It’s supposed to be like clockwork,” Scott said.

The Habitat for Humanity project on Saturday was just one of the projects hosted during February by McMurry’s Alumni Association. Other upcoming events include:

A month-long sock drive is being sponsored by Betty Hardwick Center: Students, faculty and staff are asked to drop off socks of any size at designated spots on campus through Feb. 28
Food Bank of West Central Texas: Help unpack and sort food, 1-3 p.m. Feb. 17
Meals on Wheels: 9:30 a.m.-12 noon, Feb. 23, stuff envelopes and prepare for fund-raising appeal
Aldersgate Methodist Church: 9 a.m.-12 noon, Feb. 25, clean playground, clean sanctuary, prep garden for spring planting

Loretta Fulton is editor of Spirit of Abilene

One comment

  • I am thankful for the many community-minded organizations we have in Abilene. I appreciate their missions and their volunteers.


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