July 21, 2011 Leave a comment
You get up super early on a Saturday morning, pack a bag lunch and head out into the crystal clear morning of a summer day. You are not heading to the shore or Six Flags; instead, you are going to spend the day working hard, sweating, getting stinky and ultimately adding an important line to your resume. Every semester Suzanne Stewart, Program Manager for Architecture and Civil Engineering, takes a group of enthusiastic PIT students to a Habitat for Humanity building site.
Habitat for Humanity is a non-profit organization that was started in 1976 to build and rehab simple, reasonably priced homes. Over the past 35 years, they have built or rehabbed 400,000 homes for 2 million people around the world. People who move into these homes don’t get them for free. They pay a monthly mortgage (which helps Habitat for Humanity build more homes) and invest hundreds of hours of their own labor (sweat equity). (habitatforhumanity.org)
The volunteers who build these houses come from all walks of life with a variety of skill sets. As Suzanne Stewart repeatedly reminds me, a volunteer can have zero construction skills and still be a valuable contributor (apparently she remembers the tragic dry-wall incident involving my picture-hanging skills!).
The students who participate in this program learn hands-on construction skills the correct way. Habitat for Humanity has only one expectation: perfect construction. On July 16, 2011, Denis Usov, Maria Clark, Sam Dix and his brother Bryant worked on a Habitat for Humanity house in Wilmington, Delaware. The house was being rehabbed for a mother and her wheelchair-bound child. The students had the opportunity to see the construction of an ADA compliant house including the drive-in shower!
Last fall, our volunteers, Bobby Dixon ad Steve Kawaleski worked on the framing of a second floor and installed floor trusses and beams. While the spring semester group (Rudisha Beattie, Steve Chapman, Ellis Gibbs, Cassandra Coleman, and Ryan McLain) worked on siding and veneers, flooring, insulation, painting and trim.
For the students who participate in this activity, it is definitely a resume builder. Habitat for Humanity is a nationally recognized organization with a reputation for excellence. However, at the end of the day, when your sweat is sweating, your face is smudged with dirt and paint and your muscles ache, the true value of the day is measured by the gleeful faces of the homeowners who will one day live in their own home for the first time in their lives.