By: Nicole Jennings
From inside the house, we saw the truck pull up. It was a rainy afternoon in Wilmington, NC.
The sand and dirt mixture had slowly turned into mud, and, as the truck backed up, it was clear that the volunteers on site were going to get messy. Inside the truck were two bathtubs that waited to be moved into the home we had spent the past few days laboring to fix the roof on.
As we trudged through the rain and the mud, straining under the weight of the tubs, the only sense of relief was that this was the final task of the day. We moved the bathtubs into their designated bathrooms, that at this point they were just skeletons of walls made of beams. As we moved the final one into place, I turned and discovered the homeowner, Michelle, with her two small children, standing just outside the door. The last time the kids had visited the house, there was no roof and no bathtubs.
Their faces instantly lit up with eager excitement at all that was accomplished in the past few days. It was in that moment that I was reminded of why I walked into my first Habitat for Humanity meeting, I was reminded why I spent my spring breaks on the Alternative Spring Break trip, I was reminded why I serve.
I serve because I know the difference home ownership can make in the lives of children. The ability to have a safe and stable home to return too every night is essential to a child’s development.
According to a study completed by Habitat for Humanity, children who live in poor quality housing (structural or maintenance issues, infestations) are likely to have emotional problems such as depression and anxiety, lower levels of academic success and even behavior problems (Levine Coley, Leventhal). These same problems are correlated with children who move frequently. By assisting families in achieving their goal of homeownership, Habitat gives these children an opportunity to grow up in a safe and stable home. A home where they can come home everyday and work on homework, or play in their own yard, and sleep in their own room every night. A chance like that is one every child deserves.
I serve because I know Habitat for Humanity can make a difference in not only the lives of the partner families that they work with, but in the communities of which they build.
Recently, on the spring break trip our chapter took, we had the opportunity to meet with a homeowner who had recently paid her last payment on her Habitat Home. She mentioned that when they first moved into their neighborhood, the crime rate was fairly high. However when her home was built, others followed along and the neighborhood began to change. She stated that her and fellow Habitat owners began a neighborhood watch that grew to include non- Habitat homeowners, leading to lower crime rates in their area.
Habitat has touched the lives of so many more than just the Habitat families they have worked with. They touch every single community and neighborhood and can truly make a difference in the lives of those living there.
As amazing of an organization Habitat for Humanity is, they cannot serve all these people alone. I encourage you, during Habitat’s Act! Speak! Build! week, to attend the events and delve into the spirit of service. I invite you to get to know our Habitat for Humanity Chapters, both here on campus and in the community.
Learn about the opportunities you may have to make a difference in the lives of families. Attend a campus chapter meeting, and hear about what they do for the community, and what they can do for you. Who knows, you may just get the opportunity to put a roof over the heads of a family in need. You may get the opportunity to see the joy in the family’s faces as they see their home come together. You have the chance to truly make an incredible impact in your community and more. So I ask you, why will you serve?