Putting youth to work for a good cause
by Staff Writer
Not everyone in Davidson was happy when the town stopped collecting autumn leaves. But it gave organizations like Habitat for Humanity Youth United an opportunity to serve the community and raise money and awareness for their program.
Davidson College Youth United and high school volunteers will be out Nov. 5, 6, 13 and 20 and Dec. 4 from 12 to 4 p.m. raking lawns for donations to Our Towns Habitat For Humanity.
Hough High School volunteers will be raking the weekend of Nov. 20.
Our Towns Habitat for Humanity Executive Director Terry Laney was the first to sign up to have his lawn raked this year. Not a fan of raking, Laney is enthusiastic about the continued effort.
“Leaves are removed from your yard, with no sweat equity on your part,” Laney said. “You get to support a worthy cause through donating what you think it was worth to have these young people rake your lawn.”
Along with Davidson College, Habitat for Humanity partners with North Mecklenburg High School, Lake Norman High School, Pine Lake Prep Upper School, Hough High School and Mooresville High School for their Youth United Program.
Youth United raises the $65,000 necessary to build a Habitat House around every 1 1/2 to 2 years, Our Towns Habitat For Humanity Youth and Volunteer Associate Jessica Grantham said.
Habitat completed a youth house in the spring of this year, and is just starting raising funds for the next one.
As much as possible, youth build the Youth United House, Grantham said. Volunteers must be at least 16 years old to build, but younger students can help fund raise and work on landscaping and other projects.
Davidson College’s annual home-stay event raised close to $6,000 last year, Grantham said.
College parents visiting for family weekend can donate a suggested $60 a night to stay with local volunteer families instead of at hotels.
The Collegiate Challenge, an alternative spring break program, brought students to Davidson from Ohio Northern University and Seaton Hall University during their spring breaks last year. The students paid to work with Habitat for the week. The Collegiate Challenge raised close to $7,000 for the youth house last year, Grantham said.
Youth United will hold Breakfast with Santa at the Red Rock Café in Birkdale Village Saturday, Dec. 10. The 2010 Breakfast with Santa raised $2,000 for the Youth United House. Tickets are on sale now at www.OurTownsHabitat.org.
Davidson College sophomore and Youth United Construction Coordinator Emma Krause wanted to get more involved with Habitat after going to her first build in college. She said the college group does a lot of advocacy as well as fundraising.
“We built bird houses right in the center of campus for the houses that we’re building now to give to the homeowners,” she said.
Awareness efforts on campus, blurbs in the campus e-newsletter and Center for Civic Engagement resources make it easy for college students to get involved, she said.
Davidson College Director of Community Service and Bonner Scholars Kristin Booher advises the campus Habitat group. She said the relationship between the college and Our Towns and the concrete results of service keep students coming back to work for Habitat.
“The staff there (at Our Towns) now is amazing, and keep giving more and more opportunities for our students to take on leadership,” Booher said. “It’s meeting a need that has been established. Habitat knows what they’re doing. … Just knowing the impact it’s making in this community where we all live right now is important.”
The physical result of a house that youth can build, from funding to construction, is a more visible validation than sending money to a distant cause. Participants appreciate working with future homeowners and seeing their fundraising and work come to fruition.
“I feel like Habitat is a really tangible way to affect someone’s life,” Krause said. “It’s an incredibly rewarding experience to work alongside the people who are going to be living in this house.”
Seeing and participating in the construction of a house, from start to finish, is the most significant part of working with Habitat for Krause. She specifically remembers one house she saw completed last spring.
“We started out with the framing, and couldn’t even imagine how it was going to come together to be a house,” Krause said. “Actually raising the walls – it was really incredibly to go from four big blocks of wood on the ground to, all of a sudden, the outline of the house.”
Anyone interested in having volunteers rake their lawns can contact Emma Krause at firstname.lastname@example.org with their name, address, phone number and day request. Habitat suggests a $15 donation, but homeowners can decide how much to give.