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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

UMB Habitat for Humanity

A group of UMB students went to a Dorchester community recently and worked on Ashton Street to do finishing touches on a Habitat for Humanity house that needed to be finished.

“We worked on painting, fixing doors, and removing and organizing the materials that were around. It was a first time for me, and I loved it. I loved the fact that the house that we worked on is right in my neighborhood and I can come by and see it and say, “I helped finish that house,” said Charmin M. Delara ,UMB Community Outreach Coordinator/ MACC AmeriCorps*VISTA.

There are currently 30 VISTA programs in college campuses across Massachusetts. VISTA is an offshoot or AmeriCorps, a national organization that works to fight poverty, build sustainability, and help families in need. Habitat for Humanity would correlate with VISTA. Though the program is widespread across America and the world, it has a local entity as students have helped in neighborhoods near campus.

“For the Habitat Work Day in November, students went to neighborhood in Dorchester; it was cool to know we did that. We also got to meet the homeowners,” said Delara.

Habitat for Humanity is an international non-profit Christian program former President Jimmy Carter pushed to set up and help provide affordable housing for families who may not otherwise be able to have a home. Habitat seeks to eliminate poverty, housing, and homelessness from the world and make decent shelter a matter of conscience and action.

“There is federal funding that helps with the costs of materials, but each school chapter still needs to do their own fundraising. There are donations and grants that assist as well, which is how they keep the costs down” said Sherrod Williams, the Director of Student Leadership and Community Engagement.

Habitat for Humanity was very active in helping victims of Katrina rebuild their homes and lives. The volunteers were mostly 18 to 25 year olds with a couple of experienced coordinators, from multiple chapters all over the U.S. who cared about making a direct difference to help provide families with affordable housing.

“We are trying to get a Habitat for Humanity Club on campus. We are raising money for students to go on an Alternative Winter Break Vacation and Alternative Spring Break to help build houses in El Paso, TX and Jacksonville, FL to help low income families get a home,” said Delara.

The program consists of mostly volunteers. UMB Community Outreach leaders are trying to instate our own Habitat for Humanity chapter. Though the organization has Christian roots, people from all backgrounds, races, and religions come together to partner to help families in need.

“We want to mobilize to volunteer for a UMB collegian chapter to help construct houses twice a month on Saturdays. We could carpool. But the first thing we need to do is get the word out and get students interested here,” said Williams.

Habitat for Humanity is looking to compensate work study students or give them some kind of educational award. It would also be a great place to do an internship, but the small cubicle given to Delara and Sherrod Williams would need to be expanded to accommodate growth.

Habitat for Humanity does not give houses away. The home owners have to make a down payment and pay a mortgage configured by their income. The families who benefit from the program, also have to put in a number of hours to help build their home and give back by helping to build someone else’s home.

Up to date, the program has built over 350,000 homes around the world to provide more than 1.75 million people in 3,000 communities affordable, safe, and decent housing.

If you are interested in volunteering and helping start a chapter at UMB contact UMass Boston Office of Student Leadership and Community Engagement and AmeriCorps Coordinator at [email protected]. Her phone number is 617-287-7949 and the fax is 617-287-7978, or call Habitat for Humanity International at (800) 422-4828.

About the Contributor
Felicia Whatley served as the following positions for The Mass Media the following years: Managing Editor: Spring 2009 *News Editor: 2009-2010 *Whatley served alongside Caleb Nelson for these years.