SNHU, L.A. Galaxy and Nonprofit Team Up on Home, Scholarship for Vet

Group photo of those who volunteered to help build a home

Tamara Lindsay thought she was just volunteering at a Habitat for Humanity project. An afternoon of carrying two-by-fours and nailing up drywall - the "sweat equity" she agreed to earn her own home through her partnership with Habitat for Humanity of Greater Los Angeles.

Instead, the formerly homeless Navy veteran was surprised with a full-tuition scholarship for an online program at to Southern New Hampshire University and a chance to earn the degree she's been trying to complete since she was a teenager. "I'm still in shock. It feels amazing," Lindsay said. "Now I get to start over ... and just finish this time. There's no excuse not to finish, and I know I can do it."

Lindsay was one of the volunteers, including a dozen SNHU students, working at the 6-home Habitat for Humanity site in Downey, Calif., an L.A. suburb. She was joined by volunteers from SNHU, the L.A. Galaxy Foundation and Mission Continues, a nonprofit that deploys veterans on community service "missions" in their communities.

Celeste Soto, manager of the L.A. Galaxy Foundation, said the relationship with SNHU has been a great way for the foundation to focus on the power of education. "This partnership has really allowed us to put education resources back into the Los Angeles community and really emphasize that education can be done anywhere, whether it's online or in the classroom," she said.

Soto recently enrolled in SNHU's MBA program and said classes have allowed her to expand her professional skills. "From a broader perspective, education is something that no one can ever take away from you. It's really empowering to have that knowledge and have that skill set," she said.

Joanne Turmin, vice president of entertainment industry partnerships for Habitat for Humanity of Greater L.A., said the homes the organization donates aren't gifts. As part of their partnership with Habitat for Humanity, clients agree to spend their own time volunteering and take homebuyer education courses. That commitment is part of why SNHU is confident Lindsay will do well in school. "They are hardworking, low-income families and individuals for all of our Habitat homes," Turmin said. "They have to partner with us."

The project also brought together a wide-ranging group that included staff and volunteers from the Galaxy, Mission Continues and Habitat for Humanity, as well as SNHU staff, alumni and students. Steve Thiel, director of sports partnership marketing for SNHU, said alumni and students alike have responded enthusiastically to community service opportunities. "They get to meet other students and alumni that are in their local area that they may not know about. They get to be physically and tangibly involved with their school, which makes them feel so glad to be in school with us. It makes them feel part of their local community and they're making a difference today," Thiel said.

Susanna Torres, who is studying forensic psychology at SNHU, said it was particularly nice to meet other students who went back to school after a long break. "I'm meeting other people around my age who are starting and getting their bachelor's," she said. "You get to network. I met alumni and other students and it's really awesome."

Thiel said helping to build homes for low-income families also aligns with SNHU's mission to increase access to education because having a secure place to live increases a person's ability to even consider getting their education. "It feels incredible to put down the foundation of a home that's going to make a family's life 10 times easier than it is now," he said. "It's worth our time. It's worth the university's time, and it's a pleasure to work alongside students."

Joe Cote is a staff writer at Southern New Hampshire University. Follow him on Twitter @JoeCo2323.

Military Community

Explore more content like this article

Three women walking down a path on a college campus.

PODI Grants Foster the Creation of an Inclusive Environment for All

February 18, 2019

The SNHU President’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion is proud to showcase the recipients of the inaugural round of “Inclusive Innovation” grants, which provide a pathway for learners, staff and faculty to become valuable agents in the creation of an inclusive environment for all.

Renee Monczynski and her daughter Ashley.

Veteran, Surviving Spouse Turns to Education and Service to Heal

February 15, 2019

They were kids when they met, barely into their 20s but already serving their country. Renee Monczynski was stationed at Kaneohe Bay Air Station, a military police officer in the U.S. Marine Corps. Matt Monczynski, was stationed at Barbers Point Air Station, each on the island of Oahu, Hawaii.

Sawyer Fournier and Frank Pellumbi

SNHU Couples Share Their Love Stories

February 14, 2019

No 2 love stories are alike, but there are many that began or blossomed at Southern New Hampshire University. On this Valentine’s Day, some of these students, staff, faculty and alumni couples shared their love stories.