This past weekend I volunteered to help out with a Habitat for Humanity home build.
I loved this opportunity. It gave me a chance to work with my hands and contribute more than just money.
Not that Habitat doesn’t need monetary donations. But I appreciated the fact that Habitat provides a way for people to give more than their money.
In just two hours a group of ten guys completely cleaned (post-construction deep-clean) and touched up (paint) a three-bedroom house that is just about ready for move-in.
I didn’t do much (just a little cleaning and painting). But I was a part of a bigger project that put someone in need into a new home.
Twelve weeks ago there was an empty lot where this home now stands. Different volunteer crews have been working each weekend to put this home together.
I’m sure many of you have volunteered some time and sweat to one of these projects and you know how rewarding it can be. I’ve always wanted to work with Habitat for Humanity and I was pleasantly surprised to learn the ins and outs of their organization.
According to their website, Habitat for Humanity has built or repaired over 600,000 homes worldwide to place over 3 million people in homes.
Basically, Habitat for Humanity assists families with low-incomes by putting them in a new or rebuilt home.
Probably the coolest aspect of this project was that I worked along side friends from my church, and the future owner of the house, Chris, who is a city water department employee here in my home town. After we were finished for the day, Chris personally thanked us and invited us to a barbecue once he moved in.
Like Chris, most families who received support from Habitat have to participate in the project themselves. Here are the terms of support as I understand them:
- Must put 300 hours of sweat equity (i.e. work) into the building of your home.
- Must truly be in need based on income level and other factors (e.g. I think Chris is a single father of two).
- Must have enough income to pay for a no-interest loan on the cost of the materials and land.
- Must have lived in the community for a year.
The home is built over the course of several weeks, primarily by volunteers on the weekends. To my knowledge, Habitat for Humanity handles the site purchase and home design. They also buy the materials and organize the volunteers. Some of the materials and tools are donated.
I love that the future owner is involved in much of the work. Oddly enough I was watching a TV show on the Amish this past weekend and this is how they work. When someone needs a home or barn they come together as a community to get the work done.
Likewise, with Habitat the owner isn’t simply handed something for free. They must show willingness to partner in the build, and the community invests in this one individual. It’s a beautiful thing.
You can get involved with Habitat in several ways: donate money, donate materials, or donate your time. Find out if Habitat for Humanity is building homes in your community. Habitat also has many long-term volunteer opportunities available. Don’t worry, you don’t need to be an expert carpenter to volunteer with Habitat. There’s plenty of non-skilled work to be done.
Have you worked with a Habitat for Humanity build? What was your volunteer experience like?