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University of La Verne president Devorah Lieberman, right, showed up to work with La Verne student-athletes helping to build a house in Covina for the charity group Habitat for Humanity.

University of La Verne president Devorah Lieberman, right, showed up to work with La Verne student-athletes helping to build a house in Covina for the charity group Habitat for Humanity.

Helping To Build A Dream

University of La Verne football players volunteer their time to help build a Habitat for Humanity home, assisted by University President Devorah Lieberman.

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  • December 8, 2011

As the early morning chill of an early December Friday slowly gave way to the warming sun, the caravan appeared through the haze. The motorcade, tailed by a van with ‘University of La Verne’ on its side, picked its way through light Covina traffic. Then, each vehicle found a place to park on East Cypress Street.

From the vehicles emerged burly young men, members of the university’s football team in full work gear, carrying hand tools.

They came to help build a dream.

University of La Verne student-athletes have volunteered their time and muscle for Habitat for Humanity in past years.

Construction of the 1,287-square-foot house, a product of Pomona Valley Habitat for Humanity, began in August, and by December it was really taking shape. The La Verne contingency was there to prep the walls for paint and the driveway for concrete pouring, donating their time and energy in an effort to ensure that the Ontiveros family — Edgar and Bridgette, and their children Jeremiah, 3, and Rebecca, 8 months — would be able to move in on January 14, 2012, as planned.

University president Devorah Lieberman was also there. Not in skirt and heels, cheering on the troops. She came to swing a hammer as well. Never mind that she has put in more hours since taking over as president on July 1 than anyone could possibly count.

“There is no better feeling than to give back to the community, and that is a core value at the University of La Verne,” Lieberman said.

It wasn’t the first time La Verne football players had volunteered their time to Habitat for Humanity, which builds homes for families in need worldwide. Inspired by the team’s service, President Lieberman offered to join them this year.  This volunteer time is also close to her heart. While the three-bedroom, two-bath home is the 43rd such dwelling built by the Pomona Valley Habitat for Humanity affiliate, it is the first to be erected in Covina, her hometown.

University of La Verne football coach Chris Krich wields a paint brush during a work session on December 2.

By now, the players have an emotional tie with the Ontiveros family as well. Members of the Leopards football team met with them in January. A month later, the squad raised money for the construction project by working a waterless car wash. Then in November, the Ontiveros family participated in a special halftime ceremony during La Verne’s final football game of the season.

Several hours later, their work complete, the La Verne crew loaded up to head for home with the satisfaction that comes with doing something for others, a feeling shared by their president.

“Helping to build a place for a family to call home is incredible,” Lieberman said. “I am honored to participate in this and the holidays being right around the corner only make our efforts that much more special.”

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