I recently had the opportunity to work on a Habitat for Humanity house. This was a very cool experience because I have never worked on a home construction site before. It was also exciting to get out the office and away from my computer screen. Instead of typing on a keyboard I was down on my knees applying moisture seal to the walls of a basement. Later, I was up on the third floor constructing an exterior wall!
Habitat for Humanity is a great idea! Here’s why.
Helping People Help Themselves
Sometimes people need a hand out. They are struggling and are almost helpless. There are great charities that do this work.
But other times people just need a little help to help themselves. That is how I see the work that Habitat for Humanity does.
The program is great in my area. The potential new homeowners get an opportunity to volunteer two hundred hours of service working on various Habitat houses. This gives them some sense of ownership, even if they aren’t working on the specific house that will become theirs.
It also helps them learn a few skills and gain some confidence with doing work on houses.
The other great thing about the program is that the new homeowner gets some financial training. They are given the basics that they need in order to succeed as a new homeowner who will have a monthly mortgage payment.
This is akin to the old adage, “give a man a fish and you feed him for a day but teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.”
Budgeting and planning shouldn’t be taken for granted. There are plenty of smart and talented people who could benefit from this. And what better way to help someone than to give them some training in this area?
Fun to Build
Helping families is great and is the reason I like Habitat for Humanity. But one of the things they emphasized in our orientation session was to try to have fun while we did the work.
I had a great time!
Like I mentioned, it was great to get outside and do some physical work as a change from the normal office duties. It was also very cool to work with my co-workers on something besides accounting matters and collaborate on constructing the walls of the upstairs bedroom.
Working with people in a different environment on a volunteer project allows you to see different aspects of the person that you would otherwise never learn.
Some of my co-workers are very skilled in construction as well. So we saw some people on the team emerge as leaders by showing their strengths on the construction site. This was great to see.
Another great thing about this type of charity is that you are making a lasting impact. There is something more satisfying about building part of a house than just giving a monetary donation.
But don’t get me wrong, Habitat for Humanity needs monetary donations as well. They provide interest free loans to the new homeowners and have many other costs which need to be covered by donations.
But the lasting impact that your work has is exciting. Just imagine driving past a house and thinking, “I built that.” Well, actually it would be more like, “I helped build that.” But even so – there is a great sense of accomplishment when you are able to work hard and see the house begin to take more shape as the day progresses!
This house that you made so much progress on will become the home to a needy family for years or even decades. This is a great thing to be able to give someone along with training to help them be self-sufficient.
For those who are not accustomed to working on a building construction site, this activity provides a great opportunity to learn. I don’t think I had used a circular saw in a decade or so before this project. So that was fun to do again. I also learned a great way to make sure a portion of a wall is square.
Another thing I learned about was basement waterproofing and that it is a good idea to wear safety glasses while hammering.
The basement of the house we were working on likely had some moisture at some point. The walls were so old that I wouldn’t be too surprised if water was seeping in through them. The walls were stone and brick and had a many areas that were clearly not sealed and that would allow water in.
The coat of basement sealing paint should have taken care of most of that!
And there was also a moat that had been dug around the edges of the basement. I believe this was to provide for a drain at some point to go to a sump pump. Seemed like a good preventative measure to me.