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Organization braves cold to build houses

Photo courtesy of Robin Sautter

While most of us have begun to bundle up and stay inside in response to the snow, the volunteers of Habitat for Humanity are braving the cold and are building homes.

Habitat for Humanity is a worldwide organization that builds homes for families in need of decent shelter. Drake University’s chapter has a number of opportunities to volunteer, including working at the ReStore supply warehouse, working shifts at a “Rock the Block” event or participating in one of the monthly “full-build” days.

“Drake’s habitat chapter has been here before I came,” said senior Robin Sautter, the chapter’s co-president. “It’s gotten increasingly more involved with the Greater Des Moines Habitat for Humanity, so we’re more involved in the community than we were before.”

Last Saturday morning, volunteers from Drake’s chapter were awake at 7 a.m. to caravan to the site of this month’s full-build day. A full-build day is a full day on site doing work projects on and around one of the houses.

“In the past, I’ve done sodding for the entire day, or you could be painting or you could be scraping paint off the sides of the houses,” Sautter said. “Anything, really. It really just depends what they need at the time.”

The students who participate in the group’s full-build days work closely with one another to get the job done. They all participate in work projects throughout the day with a lunch break in the middle.

“You really meet new people that you didn’t know before,” Sautter added.

Not only does Drake’s chapter volunteer in the Des Moines community, but it also volunteers in other states through spring break trips.

The spring break trips are a low-cost way to volunteer on the other side of the country and meet families from other areas. Three years ago, the organization’s spring break trip was in Taos, N.M. Over the last two years, the spring break trips fell through because of a lack of funding, but this year it has been confirmed that Drake’s chapter of Habitat for Humanity will be traveling to Alamosa, Colo.

“We will be building another house like we did before (in Taos, N.M.),” Sautter said. “But it will be different because it’s going to be still really cold.”

The Habitat for Humanity webpage, www.habitat.org, states that homeowners that are satisfied with their homes and neighborhoods are more likely to volunteer in civic and political activities. It’s reasons like this that Sautter volunteers.

“The idea behind Habitat is to build a home for someone who can’t afford it, but it’s not just giving it to them,” Sautter said. “Those families have to put in ‘sweat equity’, so they also have to work so many hours on the house in order to earn that.”

Sautter also enjoys volunteering for Habitat because of the unforgettable people she has gotten to know.

“When I was doing a ‘Rock the Block’ (event)… right before fall break, we had this older guy… and he was so much fun,” Sautter said. “He was just great to hang out with for four hours. And you know it’s those people that you wouldn’t meet on campus at Drake. You meet these very unique and special people out in the community that care as much as you do. I’m never going to forget him because he was just that great.”

Any Drake students that are interested in getting involved in Habitat for Humanity can attend any of the volunteer events, including the spring break trip. For more information, or to be added to the email list, contact chapter Co-President Allison Gibble at allison.gibble@drake.edu.

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