On Sunday afternoon, 23 young men huddled around a slab of wood and signed their names carefully around the words painted boldly: “Brothers for David.”
Members of seven fraternities gathered to participate in a Habitat for Humanity blitz-build in memory of David Shannon, a freshman who died three months ago after falling from concrete machinery in Carrboro.
Shannon would have celebrated his 19th birthday Saturday, and he might have participated in the Habitat for Humanity event if not for his untimely death.
Last semester, Shannon, a member of the Chi Phi fraternity, raised more than $1,000 for Blitz Build, an activity for new fraternity pledges. He raised the most out of more than 100 participants.
“Sometimes there are rivalries between frats, but this really transcends all houses and is student-run and collaborative,” said Everett Young, chairman of the event.
“We not only build but also fundraise, and David was really enthusiastic about it all,” he said.
The 16-week long building program started last weekend with a small session where Shannon’s father and a few of his friends laid out the foundation for the house and met the family who will be living in it.
Chris Hourihan, a member of Chi Phi, said he will remember Shannon as a genuine, funny person who was liked by everyone.
Three years ago, the Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity also organized a Habitat for Humanity build in honor of the death of their president Courtland Smith.
Last year, the event expanded to more fraternities.
“We had five fraternities involved last year and now have seven, but it would be great to have this be an (Interfraternity Council)-wide effort with all the fraternities,” Young said.
Previously it has been hard to recruit brothers of fraternities to get involved, but this year Young said that wasn’t a problem.
Susan Bourner, director of development at Habitat for Humanity in Orange County, said sustaining the project year after year is the most important thing.
“They all have very different personalities and are from very different groups who are coming together for this great cause so this deserves to continue to happen for years to come,” she said.
Aaron Bachenheimer, director of the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life and Community Involvement, worked with Young and Jack Partain, former IFC president, on the project, guiding the duo through the organizational process.
“We were not driving the ship, just supporting it. In the end, this was not office-driven — it was all the students,” Bachenheimer said.
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