Wharton MBAs live in two bubbles: one in Center City and one in Huntsman Hall. During our two years here, some feel we don’t spend much time outside of these bubbles and are often not given a lot of opportunities to do so. Over four days in March, the Wharton MBA community is invited and encouraged to give back to a Philadelphia neighborhood less than 2 miles west of JMHH.
Rebuilding Together Philadelphia (RTP) was started in 1988 by Robert Bellinger (WG’89) and a team of Wharton students, in an effort to better connect the school with the West Philadelphia community. RTP is part of a national network of organizations that provide critical home repairs, modifications, and improvements for low-income homeowners. Wharton MBAs have been integral in RTP projects each spring since the organization was founded and this year will be no different. A dedicated team of first and second year students, in conjunction with the RTP staff, is planning a ‘block build’ for March 15, 16, 22, and 23 in Mantua. The block build focuses on a cluster of houses in an effort to revitalize entire blocks rather than single homes of a low-income neighborhood.
Volunteers are not required to have any previous training in home rebuilding. Training for technical tasks is taught on the build dates with the help of skilled contractors who, thankfully, do know what they are doing. However you would be surprised what you can learn to do in a couple of days of volunteering — just ask the team Cohort G last year who rebuilt a stairwell or the Cohort I team that demolished and rebuilt a leaky external wall.
In this year alone, the volunteers from the Wharton community will put thousands of dollars worth of sweat equity into the Mantua neighborhood. Outside of sheer hard work, for every $1 raised by RTP, $5 of home repairs are provided to the community. Additionally, Robert Bellinger has not only pledged support to RTP this year to help pay for the Wharton build weekends but he has connected us with a donor who will match up to $25,000 in donations. The donor’s goal is to help revitalize some of the funding sources for this annual effort and is eager to match any and all donations received. In the coming weeks you will be hearing from Cluster Reps and RTP Leadership Team members about how you can sign up to volunteer and/or donate to the effort and help us raise $50,000 for the organization to support the Wharton builds.
The impact the build weekends has is profound and many of the homeowners who received RTPs services last year are coming out to volunteer this year. One homeowner from last year learned how to lay a linoleum floor over the course of the weekend and then taught her neighbors how to do the same in their home. Due to the repairs provided, another homeowner for the first time had a home where she could invite her neighbors over for Thanksgiving dinner – providing a strong sense of community that was missing before.
For additional information or questions, please contact Kelly Ronan (WG ’13).