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Joe’s Story – Villanova, Habitat and Leadership

Villanova, Habitat and leadership

Ask Joe Catuzzi what he’s passionate about and you’ll most likely hear: his family, Villanova, and Habitat for Humanity. Ironically, the three are all connected.

Joe is a proud Villanova alum who met his wife Emily on a Habitat student chapter build. Today, he is an attorney at Stradley Ronon and a member of Habitat’s Montdelco’s Board of Directors. He and Emily still volunteer together; most recently coordinating a Villanova Alumni Build.

Joe’s Habitat leadership was evident early on. After participating in Saturday build trips as a Nova freshman, he stepped up sophomore year as co-president of the chapter, one of the most active in the nation.

Harnessing student power

“Villanova students bleed blue for the Wildcats, but they also live and breathe service,” Joe explains. “We had a Habitat program called Act! Speak! Build! We were empowered to set a goal and make it happen. So we educated the student body about affordable housing and asked them to donate the cost of a cup of coffee, or lunch. We raised $7,000 in small donations.”

Under Joe’s leadership, Villanova’s Habitat for Humanity student chapter raised $50,000 to sponsor two homes in Montgomery County. Since 2002, the chapter has raised more than $150,000 and provided more than 7,000 volunteer hours to Habitat Montdelco.

According to Executive Director Marianne Lynch, the University has profoundly influenced Habitat’s success. “We wouldn’t be where we are today if it wasn’t for Villanova,” she says. “Today, we’re one of the top producing Habitats in the United States. We’ve been motivated to excel, and we built our capacity thanks to the support of the University. We couldn’t be more grateful.”

Today, Habitat benefits from the volunteer service of undergraduate and graduate students who conduct research, and from alumni like Joe who serve on the board and on volunteer committees.

Getting back from giving back

For Joe, volunteering for Habitat is about service to others, but it’s also about fulfillment. “I’ve learned a lot about Habitat’s business model and what it takes to sustain an organization. I’ve built a lot of relationships, and through my work on the Neighborhood Revitalization Committee, have helped build partnerships with other non-profits and with community members.”

His favorite part? “It’s the opportunity to attend events and meet the families that partner with us during the year. Their resiliency is inspiring.”

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