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Wednesday September 2nd, 2015 12:31AM

TMC athletes help others, build relationships

By Staff
CORNELIA- The men's soccer team at Truett-McConnell College invested 42 man-hours, working on a Habitat for Humanity house in Cornelia recently.<br /> <br /> "We were very glad to have them here," Habitat's lead carpenter, Tom Gagnon, said. "They worked very hard, doing some of the difficult jobs that others don't want to do to help us complete this house."<br /> <br /> Gagnon said the student-athletes stained porches; insulated the attic and crawl space; and cleaned the entire house, sweeping, mopping and cleaning bathrooms.<br /> <br /> "The guys were very service-oriented, and they worked their hardest the whole time they were here," Gagnon said. "We will have more projects in the future, and I would welcome Truett-McConnell students' help any time."<br /> <br /> Dr. Damien Westfield - TMC's head coach for men's soccer and assistant professor of Speech/Communication - contacted Habitat for Humanity because he was "looking for an opportunity where our assistance would make a positive impact in the community."<br /> <br /> "As a former college athlete, I am familiar with engaging in volunteer work, and it made me appreciate serving others in the community who need our assistance," said Westfield, whose doctoral dissertation is titled: "The relationship between intercollegiate athletes who participate in community service and servant leadership."<br /> <br /> As a coach, however, Westfield was "focused on the impact" the project would have on the student-athletes because some had "never engaged in volunteer work before," he said.<br /> <br /> Penzi Kakoma, a midfielder from Zambia, is such a student: "Honestly, I have never done this before, but I have a kindred spirit to do even more."<br /> <br /> When the team arrived on scene, they all seemed to have the same inward response: "Work and no pay," Kakoma added.<br /> <br /> "Surprisingly, as we worked, momentum, zeal and determination to get the job done got ignited as we fully understood what we were doing and why," said Kakoma, noting that he eventually experienced "manifestations of love, kindness, joy and hope."
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