Despite school being virtual, there are still so many amazing clubs to get involved in, one being Habitat for Humanity. Habitat for Humanity is a nationwide non-profit that focuses on giving everyone a comfortable home. Over 15 years ago, our own Habitat for Humanity chapter was created here at the University of Connecticut.
Co-presidents Julia Machaj and Steven Kao run the UConn chapter along with seven other executive members. Together they facilitate and organize fundraisers and movements to gain traction and trips to different parts of the United States. Kao, a fifth semester physiology and neurobiology major, says Habitat’s goal is to provide comfortable housing to all.
“Our fundraising efforts culminated in over $10,000 being raised for UConn and Willimantic causes.”
“We fundraise and volunteer with communities to help build homes. The goal is not only to provide safe and affordable housing, but to empower these families to become active, contributing members of the society,” he said.
Habitat even works with our own nearby community, Willimantic. It can be difficult to feel your direct impact so far from home, however ours is right in our backyard. UConn Habitat teams up with the Habitat chapter of Eastern Connecticut State University to work together in creating a difference.
“Our fundraising efforts culminated in over $10,000 being raised for UConn and Willimantic causes,” Kao said.
Along with helping out our Connecticut community, Habitat volunteers are given the opportunity to go on Alternative Spring Break trips, where they travel to another community in the country. Students spend the week working on homes, while also making new Habitat friends along the way. Machaj, a seventh semester mechanical engineering major, loved Alt Trips so much, she completed two of them. Her first was in Medford, Oregon.
“As a freshman, this trip opened my eyes to a whole new world on the West Coast, where homelessness is much higher than in CT,” she said. “The dedication of the volunteers I met encouraged me to lead an Alt Break trip the following year to Kelso, Washington.”
The multiple facets of Habitat is what makes it so successful. When students are not fundraising, they are staging events to garner attention on the drastic homelessness problem that is taking place across the world. One way students do this is by spending the afternoon in cardboard boxes by the Student Union. As their peers walk by, they are given the opportunity to ponder how some cannot just simply go back to a concrete house, but rather how a cardboard box truly is their home.
For Machaj, Habitat is not only about building a house, but rather about creating a community that is there for each other.
“This can be interpreted as not only having a house to live in, but having a community willing to back you and help you sustain a decent lifestyle,” she said. “Whether that help takes the form of building a house or taking financial education classes through Habitat, they are a hand up, not a hand out.”
If you wish to be a helping hand in your community, Habitat for Humanity is the place for you. Students can get involved by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org to be added to the email list, or by finding Habitat for Humanity on UConntact. They can also be found on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook at @uconnhabitat.