Founded in 1976, Habitat for Humanity a worldwide organization focused on providing affordable housing to those in need. Collectively, members have built over 500 houses and served over two million people. And with a local Fox Valley chapter, consider Habitat the ultimate opportunity to break out of the Lawrence bubble.
Of course, this chance to break out is not just in the figurative sense. Every year Lawrence’s Habitat takes a spring break trip. Last year, they went to North Carolina and this year, Miami is the confirmed destination. Looking even further ahead, there is talk of a potential international trip in the works for next year.
After talking to Eli Hungerford and Katie Boknevitz, president and vice-president of Lawrence’s Habitat chapter, it’s clear that even with everything that they do, the best part is still going on the builds themselves. While on a build, Habitat members learn all the basic construction skills needed to jump right in and start building the house. Each shift is eight hours long, but generally these are split into two four-hour shifts so more people can participate. The future homeowners are also required to put a certain amount of hours into the construction of their home. Hungerford and Boknevitz couldn’t say enough about how appreciative the homeowners always are for their help; their presence makes the experience that much more rewarding.
On why he enjoys the builds, Hungerford said, “It’s something you’re physically doing. You can see that you’re directly solving a problem. You can see what you’ve accomplished and it’s very satisfying.”
While builds are at the heart of Habitat’s mission, Winter Term is dedicated to organizing events and fundraising. For example, be on the look out for Habitat’s Souper Bowl, which, as the name suggests, takes place the night of the Super Bowl. They provide soup and bread; all you have to do is buy the bowl.
Then, of course, there is all the planning that has to be done for Shack-A-Thon, which is by far Habitat’s biggest event on campus. Traditionally, it has taken place during spring term in conjunction with Ormsby’s Zoo Days on Main Hall Green. It’s a fun and popular event with a serious mission: raising awareness about homelessness and poverty in not only the Fox Valley area, but also the world at large. Different clubs, organizations and even groups of friends can sign up to build a “shack” made entirely of found or recycled material. In the spirit of competition, groups tend to go all out. The group with the best shack gets pizza the night of the event while camping out on the green.
Along with all of that, and new this year, members will have the opportunity to volunteer at Habitat’s ReStore, which sells secondhand housing materials. It’s a valuable way to encourage recycling and sustainable living.
As Eli Hungerford shared, “In some houses, they can recycle up to 95 percent of materials.”
And the happenings at Habitat this year don’t end there. This year, Lawrence Habitat-ers are aiming high. They hope to get approval to sponsor a Lawrence house. So far, the outlook is good; plans to start building may happen as soon as next school year.
Habitat is always excited to welcome new members. For those Lawrentians who would still like to get involved, meetings are every Thursday on the fourth floor of the Warch Campus Center at 8:30 p.m. Even those who are interested but can’t make the meetings are invited and encouraged to participate in any of the builds or other events. For further information or just to get on the mailing list, e-mail Boknevitz or Hungerford.