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HUMANICS. IN ACTIoN. Continued from previous page “You’re going to be a grandma by then,”


says Destanee. “I better not be a grandma.” In the homework session, Destanee


makes a chart of the planets, and debates whether or not to include Pluto, evicted a


“Once you get here, you know why you got up ... I’m not tired anymore because I’m excited.”


Emily Brown


few years ago from planetary status for reasons that don’t seem fair to either Partner. DiTore offers Destanee her purple Samsung phone and looks up Pluto on Google Images, then scratches out a dark gray orb on the bottom of her sheet. “You going to put your name on the


homework?” DiTore asks, teasingly. “Yessssss, Megan,” Destanee says,


feigning irritation. In Cheney Dining Hall, the ritual has


become comfortable. DiTore grabs a spatula, hoists two pepperoni and hamburg slices, and places them on Destanee’s plate. Destanee fills up a glass with a blue beverage. DiTore comes back with a salad for herself and a slice of roast beef. Later, Destanee fills a plate with a huge crescent shape of cherry tomatoes—her favorite— and two English muffins slathered with cream cheese. The plate looks like a smile. DiTore comes back with two cupcakes


crashed us into the shore,” Destanee says. “Oh well,” states DiTore, with a shrug. Destanee asks about Bosco, the 60-pound


Rottweiler who sits on the lap of DiTore’s mother in New Jersey every time Megan calls home. DiTore knows all about the pets in Destanee’s house, too, the two cats and the hamster—not to mention her three brothers. “You’re kind of like my sister,” Destanee


says, slinging her arm around DiTore’s shoulder. “I’ll take that.” **


It is a teeth-chattering Saturday morning in November. Many a college student is still fast asleep at 8:30 a.m. Emily Brown is not among them. A junior communications disorders major,


she is already up and out, squirting a line of caulk along some window trim in the living room of a gray two-story house nearing completion on Leitch Street. It is a “day build” for Habitat for Humanity. “Once you get here, you know why you


got up,” says Brown, a brown ponytail swaying down through the back of her Red Sox cap over a black Springfield College sweatshirt. “I’m not tired anymore because I’m excited.” Hailing from nearby South Hadley, Brown


vividly remembers the day of the tornado, 17 months before. She had just had her wisdom teeth removed and she remembers groggily hearing about the damage. Soon she drove to International Hall, where she was set to begin living come September. She was astonished by the fury of the storm, the way it had ripped the roof off of International and air-lifted mattresses into the lake. She said she found the destruction of trees—particularly a favorite willow of hers—to be “heartbreaking.” But she also knew that others had


themed for Halloween, brown frosting with orange sprinkles. “My mom’s making my costume this


year,” Destanee announces. “I’m going to be a zombie.” They reflect on some memories of their


time together: the bowling expedition, the canoe trip in Lake Massasoit. “You almost


10


suffered far, far worse than anyone on campus—and here, almost a year and a half later, she is filled with new resolve. This house on Leitch Street is being built for Juan Guerrero and his two daughters, Fabiola (20) and Ibone (16). Of all the stories of loss in the tornado, none was as piercing as theirs. As the twister ripped into West Springfield, Angelica Guerrero grabbed Ibone and brought her into the bathroom, covering her daughter in the bathtub, thinking it was the


safest place. Angelica died saving her daughter. Juan Guerrero, a spiritual man who was


born in Mexico, has been immensely touched by the outpouring of kindness. He was humbled to be chosen for one of four Habitat homes in the city, and he has plunged into hundreds of hours of sweat equity alongside people like Emily Brown. “All the work, maybe 95 percent is volun-


teers,” he says, rubbing a hand over his bald head and prominently dark eyebrows. “It’s nice. It’s a good feeling that people care.” The house is on line to be finished before


Christmas. Guerrero says that he and his daughters are very excited, and that he feels Angelica’s presence all the time. Recently, he was making some homemade tortillas with beef, sliced onions, lemon, lettuce, tomato, and cheese for a batch of sopitos, “one of her favorite dishes…As soon as I began cooking,” he says, closing his eyes at the memory, “I recalled the smell of her perfume. Not strong. Not sweet. It’s like anise. She always wore it.” The new home he says, “represents a new


beginning for my family”—but not just that. “To me this [also] represents all of the people who came here to help. All of them are in my heart now.” Emily Brown puts in a long day, then


heads back to campus for the rest of her junior year. She says she is especially looking forward to March, when she and dozens of classmates will travel to Sumter, S.C., to work on a house for Habitat. She stresses, though, that their group is just one of a great many doing valuable service work, putting Humanics into action on a regular basis. “I couldn’t picture myself anywhere else,”


she says. “It’s the perfect place for me.” She has found the college that fits


her heart.1 TRIANGLE 1 Vol . 84, No. 1


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