Xavier Magazine

Home Works

It’s not unusual for young couples headed down the aisle to think about building a house. But building three houses–finished within a month of the wedding? With no intention of moving in? That’s enough to make the blood pressure cuff explode. But that’s exactly the plan Joliene Cummins, a 2006 grad, and her soon-to-be husband Chris Garlich hatched to mark their June 2009 wedding.

“We already had a house that Chris previously bought,” says Cummins, who works in Xavier’s Williams College of Business in admissions while she finishes her MBA. “We didn’t want a bunch of gifts. But we did want to start our lives together by giving to others.”

Chris’ family had a tradition of holiday gifting through Food for the Poor, providing international direct relief assistance in Latin America and the Caribbean, including the Dominican Republic, where Joliene and Chris were headed for a honeymoon.

“We thought that if we were going to go and use their country to have fun on our honeymoon, we wanted to somehow help the people there,” she says. So they contacted Food for the Poor, which set up a “registry” web site for donations to build a house—costing about $2,700—on the island. “We could not think of a better way to spread the love we feel for each other than by giving others a place to call home.”

When invitations went out for a shower, a note about the web site replaced the usual retail registry. “To get some to understand was a stretch.”

So instead of china, crystal and slow-cookers, within a month of their wedding, the couple got photographs of not just one, but three, new houses with the proud owners in front. “It turned out the houses were about 15 miles south of where we stayed,” says Joliene. And now for all those thank you cards.

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