Starting on Monday, the Gustavus community has the opportunity to work with Habitat for Humanity to build a shed that will be donated to a family in St. Peter. This is all part of the Act, Speak, Build Week held every year to promote the St. Peter chapter of Habitat for Humanity. The shed build will take place on Eckman Mall and will be running Monday, May 2 until Friday, May 6 from 12:30 to 5 p.m. daily.
Along with the shed build, students will be tabling to sell T-shirts for $10 to raise money. All profits will go toward the building materials.
The goal of the shed building is more than simply donating a shed. “We are trying to promote awareness of Habitat in general on campus and to make people more aware of the fact that we benefit the local area because people generally just think of the Spring Break trip,” Senior BioChem and Molcular Bio and Chemistry Major and Co-President of Habitat for Humanity Garrett Clause said.
Once the shed is built it will get put on a trailer and moved to the location where the house is going to be built. Houses are currently being built on Church Street, by the small water tower off of Sunrise Drive. There will be three houses there. One of the houses is finished and two more will be built.
The St. Peter chapter of Habitat builds one house per year, and the house is built in part by the high school shop class and then delivered sometime in June to its location where volunteers help with the finishing process.
Families chosen to receive Habitat houses have to contribute 500 hours of work on their house, known as sweat equity. The families also have to pay a mortgage that is less expensive than almost any other house. Habitat is a Christian organization that also teaches families how to complete home repairs and balance a budget.
Habitat also gives students an opportunity to participate in Habitat building sites across the U.S. Over Spring Break, 94 Gustavus students traveled to three different work sties: Biloxi, Miss.; Taos, N.M.; and Bluffton, S.C. Each of these sites offered different challenges and work opportunities to the students who went.
Clause led the trip to Taos, N.M. and 29 people went to work in this rural area. “We basically laid cinder block for the foundation, and it was pretty cool because this region was really rural and had a small community. We had to drive half-an-hour outside of the town just to get food, and we stayed at a local church,” Clause said.
A lot of students are interested in going on a Spring Break Work Trip because it combines travel and service. This is what caught the attention of First-year Valentina Muraleedharan and urged her to go on the trip to Biloxi, Miss.
“I had no plans for Spring Break, and I had heard that Habitat was a volunteering experience. I have done a lot of community service in my high school in Botswana. I thought it would be a good thing to do, and I had never built a house, so I thought it would be fun,” Muraleedharan said.
During the trip to Miss. the group worked on a variety of projects that included painting, building a shed, putting in windows and roofing. “We were building the family’s house whole heartedly, which is a very important intention of this program,” Muraleedharan said.
Service is the reason that drew Senior Sociology and Antropology Major Liz Bowman to get involved with Habitat. She has participated on all levels thoughout her four Spring Break trips. This past Spring Break she was the site coordinator for the Bluffton, S.C. trip. “Each trip is really unique to where you go and the people you are with,” Bowman said.
During the South Carolina trip it rained more frequently than they anticipated, so they spent some of their time helping to organize the Habitat Re-store, which takes in donations and sells them to support the Habitat program. Ninety-two cents of every dollar is given back to the Habitat program.
Sophmore Biology Major Liana Lien was part of the group that went to South Carolina, and this was her first Spring Break Work Trip. She decided to become a part of Habitat for Humanity after she had a similar experience after she graduated from high school volunteering in New Orleans.
“We worked on two small houses that were right next two each other in a small development of Habitat for Humanity houses. We also helped to improve the fronts of two buildings in town and helped to organize displays and clean up the Habitat Re-Store Warehouse,” Lien said.
The students who participated in the Spring Break work trips have returned with stories to tell and families they have supported through their work on homes. This week is a chance to help the Habitat for Humanity mission to create affordable living in the St. Peter community by helping to build a shed that will go to a family receiving a Habitat home.