Habitat for Humanity is an international organization with chapters all over the world, and we are very lucky to have one of our very own here at Gustavus.
This organization provides affordable housing with “sweat equity”, Senior Kaitlyn Peroutka, Co-President of the Gustavus chapter said. Habitat for Humanity helps in-need families work together with volunteers to build affordable and adequate housing.
Peroutka emphasizes that they refer to the program as a hand-up not a hand-out because the groups work side by side with the people in need to help them, not just doing all the work for them.
Before being able to construct the houses, potential homeowners must meet certain qualifications to be eligible for a home. They participate in things like background checks to prove that the family is financially ready to take on the responsibility of a house and mortgage.
The family’s down payment comes from that phrase ‘sweat equity’ meaning that the family puts in a certain number of hours on their house and that becomes their down payment.
Volunteer groups are sent to cities in-need all over the U.S, and the world, to help where they are needed most. Founded in 1976, Habitat for Humanity has been working to construct homes in this way for no profit for over 40 years.
Here at Gustavus, the chapter sends student volunteers on a couple trips throughout the year, one taking place over the fall break and three over spring break, to help homeowners build their houses.
This fall Habitat for Humanity is excited to go back to Aurora, MN to help construct two different houses. The group stays at a church and, although a lot of their time is dedicated to hard work and helping the families in need, there are also a lot of opportunities for bonding.
Time is dedicated during the trips to go hiking and participate in other activities together to develop relationships between the students who are volunteering.
In the spring, three groups are sent out, usually to somewhere in the southern states.
Although the spring break trip locations have not been officially decided yet, Luke Snyder and Kelly Poffenberger, predict at least one will take place in Texas, or other areas affected by the hurricanes that have destroyed many homes and cities this year.
These three trips will also include time working face to face with the families in need, and time bonding with other students on the trip.
No experience is required in order to be a part of the volunteer groups sent out over breaks, and there are several different ways to get involved.
Sometimes the group will table outside of the Caf to raise awareness of their organization and get others involved.
Otherwise, there is an online application for students who want to be a part of the trips to help in different places. Usually the group tries to make a big event out of the registration for the Spring Break trip.
Peroutka explained that people line up as early as six o’clock in the morning, because it’s a first come first serve registration process, so they try to make it fun and get people excited to volunteer.
These trips make a huge impact not just on the families they help, but also the students who participate in them. Participating in a trip “is unlike anything you’ll ever do here at Gustavus,” Andrew Beede, Co-President, said.
They are a great way to get involved and to make an impact on people all throughout the U.S. All of the executive board recommend going on at least one trip in order to get the full experience of working side by side the family that you are helping.
However, you don’t just have to go on a trip to be involved with Habitat for Humanity. Different events including things like “Act, Speak, Build Week” occur right here at Gustavus to bring more awareness to the organization, and to help out residents locally.
In the future, the Gustavus chapter hopes to be even more involved in their own city of Saint Peter. They want to work on community building within their very own community and work to make St. Peter home to families in need.
Applications for the upcoming fall break trip to Aurora, MN are available online and due October 9.