Helping out the habitat

Jonquil Wegmann

While many Iowa State students are sleeping in or taking the day off on Saturdays, students in the ISU chapter of Habitat for Humanity are volunteering to help the community.

Habitat for Humanity, which has over 100 members, organizes Saturday morning trips to help build or rehabilitate housing for low-income families.

Steve Johnson, a graduate student in chemistry and the external coordinator of the group, said the ISU chapter works in conjunction with Marshalltown and the Story county chapters.

They split their work trips between two work sites, one in Story City and one in Marshalltown.

Johnson, a member for four years, said their goal is to provide decent housing for people in need.

“It’s very rewarding because we often get to work side by side with the habitat families,” Johnson said.

The non-profit program, which is run on donations and organized by volunteers, sells new or renovated homes to families who are unable to buy a home at market price.

The profit from the sale goes directly towards funds for construction of the next house.

Johnson said the family is given a no-interest loan for a typical mortgage time frame. He said most families actually pay less on monthly mortgage payments toward home ownership than they would for rent for sub-standard housing.

Families show commitment and responsibility to home ownership by taking part in 500 “sweat equity” hours, where they work on the homes along side the volunteers.

Habitat for Humanity was established over 20 years ago by Millard Fuller, a friend of former President Jimmy Carter. Since then Carter has acted as a spokesperson for the organization.

He is still actively involved, taking part in ‘blitz-building’ projects where several homes are built in a short period of time.

The international organization seeks to eliminate poverty housing from the world and to make decent housing a matter of conscience and action.

By having both lower-income and affluent people work together in equal partnership, the organization seeks to build a new relationship, a sense of community, as well as new housing, according to a Habitat for Humanity brochure.

Johnson said anyone interested in lending a hand is welcome on the trips. He said no experience is necessary, and students can do anything they are interested in, from exterior to interior work.

“It’s a lot of fun. It’s a nice break from studying,” Johnson said.

Johnson said work trips leave Saturday morning at 9 a.m. from the rear parking lot of the Collegiate United Methodist Church on Lincoln Way across from Friley Hall.

All skill levels are welcome.

Interested students can visit the Habitat For Humanity’s office in the east side of the student office space on the ground floor of the Memorial Union.