I was truly given a taste of that impact today on my second build with Pikes Peak Habitat for Humanity. Today I had the opportunity to work with Elizabeth, a Habitat homeowner, who is breaking ground on her new home in the next couple of weeks. Elizabeth, a single mother working full-time, was ecstatic to tell me about her experience with Habitat. She was not only grateful to build her very own home, she was also looking forward to taking courses with Habitat that teach new homeowners important skills such as financial planning and home maintenance. I was also happy to hear that Elizabeth felt that the hours spent helping to build with Habitat were allowing her to establish relationships with other homeowners, especially the ones who had homes in her neighborhood. She was already meeting her neighbors before their houses were even standing!
Habitat's approach to addressing the issues surrounding affordable housing deserves great applause. Homeowners are chosen through a selective application process and earn their home through volunteer hours spent on build sites and by taking courses to learn about the physical and financial demands of owning a home. As Elizabeth expressed, this process empowers homeowners to truly make the most of their home. Habitat intentionally builds homes simultaneously in the same neighborhood allowing new homeowners to establish relationships with one another by interacting on build sites and in classes together. This establishes a foundation for a tightly knit community.
It was also a great experience to talk with the many dedicated volunteers and the Habitat crew on the site. Brenda (pictured above) is a local school teacher who volunteers with Habitat because she feels its a fun way to give back. Several Air Force Academy students also brought a strong energy and a great amount of man power to the site. Several retired gentlemen also come back weekly to volunteer, bringing a high level of experience to the group. Of course, I can't forget about Gary and Joe, the site mangers, who have an outstanding level of patience, knowledge, and humor that make it possible for twenty novice volunteers to build sturdy, beautiful homes.
To anyone following my journey, know that you don't have to bike 3,000 miles or even donate a dime to charity to make a difference in the lives of others. Volunteering is a priceless experience that you will not regret. April is National Volunteer Month. Consider dedicating one day in April to give back to your community. You may like it enough to volunteer every weekend.