A Hand Up, Not a Hand Out… Many Hands in Action
It is 8 am on Saturday, Sept. 9, 2017. Already it is hot and muggy as late summer in Georgia usually is. One by one cars appear at a newly cleared house site where the foundation has been poured. Stacks of lumber are all around; our Habitat for Humanity work trailer is full of tools that we will need. Everyone present gathers around as scriptures are read. Our new homeowner-to-be, our Habitat Board President, Chairman of Construction Committee and our Construction Superintendent each have on a bright yellow hard hat and grasp a shovel. As the words come to an end each of them plows in their shovel and gives a heave of dirt to signify the official ground breaking for House #38 built by the Dublin-Laurens Habitat for Humanity. It’s time to get started.
As work begins our team leaders direct volunteers in different areas, cars keep pulling up with more volunteers. A gentleman pulls up with his tool belt on; tells us he saw in the paper that we were starting a house today and wanted to help. He turns out to be a contractor with his own construction company who clearly knows his business. This gentleman later brought his church members who shingled and roofed the house in three hours’ time. One of the local high schools have pre-built some portions of the frame and brought them on a trailer. By this time we have 60-plus volunteers on the site. Snacks and water are provided ongoing. On this date by noon the entire house is framed in interior and exterior walls. Two of our Executive Board members have brought a large group of young people from the Junior NAACP group in Dublin. These young people have prepared all kinds of sandwiches, cookies, chips, and drinks to feed lunch for all the volunteers present.
The words above are a description of a fairly typical first-day construction on a Habitat House. We work 8 am to noon on Saturdays as needed. We have breaks when we get to a point where we have to stop and allow subcontractors to come in to do wiring, sheetrock, plumbing and so forth. Then on a specified building day DaVita teammate volunteer their time to come in to do installation of insulation and any other needed tasks.
It has been my great pleasure to have been affiliated with Habitat for Humanity since 2005 first as a volunteer, then President of the Executive Board, and now a member at large of the Dublin affiliate Executive Board. I’ve had the pleasure of presenting the check that the KT Community Foundation has given us for the last eight years. The KT Community Foundation is a Village Program for DaVita teammates that helps pay for materials and tools for a community service project benefitting a 501(c)3 charity in which a teammate or his/her immediate family member is actively involved.
Different teammates have helped with the houses over the years and all participants have expressed what a great feeling it is to see a Habitat House take shape. My teammates’ children have also been involved and it is great to see them participating, giving them the great feeling of helping others, guided by their parents. One of our teammates has also become a Board Member after participating in the home building. Often the question in the summer comes up from teammates “when are you all going to build another house?” There is a feeling of pride that DaVita helps on these houses and that we are a part of each house over the last eight years.
Over the last eight years the KT Community Foundation has contributed approximately $13,000 to the Dublin-Laurens County Habitat. This money has been used for jobs such as painting interiors and/or installing interior insulation. These contributions have had a tremendous effect on our affiliate’s ability to build houses. We do fundraisers, but grants such as those the KT Community Foundation has provided are a blessing to all who work with the houses.
The greatest joy comes in presenting the new homeowner with keys to a house that they will turn into a home. We’ve had celebrations when homeowners have paid off their houses and burned their mortgage note. Habitat Homes are an interest-free home loan, not a free house. It is a great joy to see people who go on to help others build their houses even after their own is complete.
Put simply, being a Habitat volunteer and a DaVita teammate whose company supports charities such as Habitat is a privilege and a joy.