Habitat for Humanity

By The Beacon | March 9, 2011 9:00pm

(Photo courtesy of Jenny Doyle -- The Beacon)

By Luke Riela, Staff Writer -- riela14@up.edu

Habitat for Humanity, an organization that has constructed and restored over 400,000 houses since 1976, is finding a new home at the University of Portland.

On Feb. 16, the UP Habitat for Humanity club was created. It is currently in the final stages of becoming an official international chapter, according to junior Jenny Doyle, president of UP's Habitat for Humanity club.

"I've been volunteering pretty much my entire life," Doyle said.

Doyle is the collegiate challenge coordinator who had been setting up the site builds with Habitat for Humanity before it became a club.

Site builds are a volunteering event in which a group of students help in building or restoring houses.

Laura Goble, adviser of the Habitat for Humanity club, said the students have "sweat equity" at these site builds because they are commonly working alongside the people for whom the houses are being built.

"In addition to helping out, they also get to learn about the deeper meaning of the project," Goble said.

Habitat for Humanity is a volunteer organization dedicated to offering everyone safe housing at a fair price.

Marianne McClure, a volunteer coordinator of the Habitat for Humanity Portland Metro who helped start the international chapter at UP, mentioned the organization's bond with homeowners.

"Our goal is to create a successful partnership with homeowners," McClure said.

According to Doyle, Habitat for Humanity volunteers help build simple houses from the early stages of construction or restore buildings.

This is not the first time there has been a Habitat for Humanity chapter at UP, according to McClure.

"At one point, the University of Portland had its own Habitat for Humanity chapter," McClure said, "so I'm glad it's coming back."

The chapter shut down about four years ago, according to Goble.

"At the time, there wasn't a lot of interest among students," Goble said. "There just wasn't much guidance and leadership from the local organization."

According to Goble, things have changed. Habitat for Humanity Portland Metro now works closely with students. Site builds are close to campus, and a church serves as a home base for volunteers.

Goble said many students have also gotten involved with Habitat for Humanity through the collegiate challenge and civil rights immersion programs.

Making the club into an international chapter will be very beneficial, according to Doyle.

"We are recognized by Habitat for Humanity, and get priority on any site builds," she said.

Doyle said otherwise they probably wouldn't have been able to get a site build on Lombard Street for April 9.

According to Doyle, the upcoming site build will take place during spring break in Bellingham, Wash., with the aid of 15 UP volunteers.

Doyle said these site builds are much more appealing to students than helping out on their own.

"A lot of students want to do (Habitat for Humanity), but they want to do it in groups," Doyle said. "People sometimes feel uncomfortable volunteering on their own."

Doyle plans on having more group volunteering opportunities in the future.

"We are going to do monthly builds. Right now we only do two per year," she said.

Despite the club's very recent creation, there is a good amount of support for Habitat for Humanity on campus, according to Doyle.

"We have about 75 people who have shown interest in the club and currently have 26 members without having our first meeting," Doyle said.

Goble mentioned the club is helpful for all the students wanting to get involved with Habitat for Humanity.

"There's already a ton of interest," Goble said. "So many students want to volunteer, (the Habitat for Humanity organization) would have to say ‘no' to a lot of people if the club weren't here."

Doyle aims to recruit people who are really dedicated to the club.

"We only have two officers now," she said. "We want to get more students with a lot of interest in the club."

Doyle hopes to gain more support for the club at this September's activity fair.

"We'll get people signed up to volunteer and get everyone involved," Doyle said.

McClure is looking forward to the new opportunities the club will offer students.

"A lot of students inquire about working with our organization," she said. "I'm really excited about the partnership."

If you are interested in the club, send an e-mail to housingprograms@up.edu to be notified of upcoming events.

(Photo courtesy of Jenny Doyle -- The Beacon)