Through Habitat for Humanity, students give back to the community

by Betsy KnudsenStaff Writer

What do being with friends, volunteering and building an entire house for someone in need all have in common? They are all part of local Habitat for Humanity projects.

Habitat for Humanity is a non-profit, ecumenical Christian ministry founded on the conviction that every man, woman and child should have a decent, safe and affordable place to live.

Habitat invites people of all backgrounds, races and religions to build houses together in partnership with families in need. Founded in 1976, Habitat has built over 300,000 houses around the world, providing more than 1.5 million people with shelter.

“Students on campus get involved by responding to my e-mails at a first come, first serve basis,” sophomore Laura Reid, leader of the Simpson College Habitat for Humanity chapter, said. “We now go twice a month because there is so much interest on campus.”

According to Reid, 10 to 12 Simpson students set out on each trip and spend the entire day with HFH members and community members to do some sort of construction work. Examples of jobs in the past have been siding, laying sod, landscaping, putting in cabinets and painting.

“I got involved here at Simpson through the e-mails Laura sends out,” freshman Kevin Rice said. “It is a great way to meet people and do service at the same time.”

One of the projects that Rice has worked on this semester was building a greenhouse. The group laid landscaping and sod, built foundation, planted trees and built a deck, all of which were environmentally friendly.

According to Rice, the service is very rewarding. It gives volunteers a sense of gratification because it is a tangible way to help someone.

“I really like how there is always work being done,” Rice said. “No one is standing around waiting for the next job, everyone is working hard and you actually get to see the end product.”

Reid says participating in HFH gives him a sense of accomplishment.

“Each time I volunteer I gain a sense of truly helping others who are in need,” Reid said. “It is something I do for the love of serving others.”

Since HFH is a non-profit organization, those who are receiving the houses also help. All families that are receiving help are required to spend hundreds of hours volunteering their time “paying it forward” with other projects. They are also required to make monthly mortgage payments on their house.

“Habitat is a program that doesn’t just give things away, but includes the family in the work,” sophomore Molly Peterson said. “It is neat that the labor is free and the materials are discounted, but the family is still responsible for paying for the house after it is built.”

Families that receive homes from HFH are chosen by a selection committee that looks at the family’s level of need, willingness to become partners in the program and ability to repay the loan.

According to Peterson, the program is a fun way to meet new people from Simpson that she normally wouldn’t have.

Anyone on campus can get involved in Habitat for Humanity by contacting Laura Reid.