By Kenneth Jacobs
After the tragic loss of their daughter in a fire, Pat and George Gordon became the guardians of their five grandchildren: Brian, 13; Bailey, 11; Brandon, 8; Bradley, 5; and Brooke, 2.
The grandparents picked up what was left of the children’s belongings after the fire and moved to Croydon, Pa., into a dilapidated house that needed a lot of work. It was the only home the Gordons could afford that provided enough room for everyone.
After reading an article about them in the Bucks County Courier Times, Cassie Iacovelli, assistant dean of Campus Life, decided that members of the Rider community should do something to provide assistance to the family.
“After all the bad things that have been happening here at Rider, I thought it would be a great idea to do a project that would bring some joy to the community,” Iacovelli said.
On Nov. 18, members of the softball team, Emerging Leaders, Tau Kappa Epsilon (TKE), Student Government Association (SGA), Student Entertainment Council (SEC), Interfraternity Council (IFC), administrators and other volunteers assisted with remodeling the Gordons’ home.
As the team leader, Iacovelli, broke everyone up into different groups to complete various projects around the house.
“It was our own extreme makeover, college-style,” junior Donte Carty said. “We broke up into teams and everyone had a job to do.”
TKE was assigned to the remodeling of the bedroom of the 5- and 8-year-old boys. The fraternity bought bed linens and room decorations to give the boys a Transformers-themed room since they liked the movie.
“Once Cassie told me that she needed volunteers to help with this project I volunteered immediately,” said Joseph Haubrich, president of TKE. “Community service is very important and I was happy to see the smiles on everyone’s faces.”
“In all of the bedrooms we put up curtains and provided them [with] new bed linens,” Iacovelli said.
The softball team and members of emerging leaders painted the living room, master bedroom and staircase.
“When I was there, I saw what bad shape their house was in, and I wanted to do everything in my power to help them,” said Brittany Eckett, a freshman on the softball team.
In addition to these projects, John Kondash, a member of TKE and vice president of IFC, built a railing for the stairs, which had been without one. Also, Iacovelli’s husband, John Iacovelli, and Danielle Marasco, administrative associate for Campus Life, and her husband, Craig, installed new flooring in the kitchen.
The Gordon family also received numerous donations. Alpha Xi Delta will be donating toys and bikes for the children; SEC donated a queen-sized mattress for the master bedroom; and IFC donated a computer, printer and a desk.
“The one-day service project was a huge success and our efforts will not stop there,” said Laura Vendetta, Lawrenceville SGA President.
Other assistance will also be provided to the family, such as mentoring from SGA for the younger children. Despite all the volunteer efforts, monetary and other donations from the community service budget, Iacovelli said the efforts were not enough to fix everything and much more work is needed.
“However, we were able to make a house more like home for this family and take a lot of the burden off of the grandparents in regard to fixing up the house,” she said. “I am positive that we made a difference in the Gordon family’s life, but I also think that everyone who assisted in this project gained a lot as well.”