Earlier this week, National Roof Over Your Head Day reminded us to stop and appreciate things we normally take for granted—staring with, of course, a roof.
Some Transylvania University students have learned—through sweat, callouses and meeting people in the surrounding community—what it means to have not only a house with a roof, but a home.
Junior Kristen Glass, president of the campus Habitat for Humanity chapter, said working with the group has been “an eye-opening experience.” College students who grew up with all their basic needs easily met, after all, might not be aware of the challenges faced by some of their neighbors. “It’s important to realize that people living right next to us might not have adequate housing,” Glass said. “We came to Transylvania to broaden our view of the world and what’s going on around us.”
The group they’re affiliated with, Habitat for Humanity, is an international nonprofit that provides decent places to live for people who need them.
Besides helping build houses, the Transy Habitat chapter meets monthly to help educate the campus community about housing issues. They also volunteer for the Habitat ReStores, where they unload donors’ vehicles and move items onto the sales floor, for instance.
Glass got involved with the group because of its welcoming community, and because she saw it as a way for her to make an impact. “With Habitat, you can literally help build a home that someone is going to live in,” she said. “It really does give people a sense of, wow, I’m doing something good.”
She also sees the efforts put forth by those receiving the homes—and how grateful they are. The homeowners take classes, work at build sites and ReStores, and make mortgage payments. “To see them work so hard toward a goal is really inspirational,” she said.
Senior Daniel Cooper also extolled the value of the organization. He joined the Habitat chapter in 2015, a year after it was founded by students who fell in love with what the group stood for during an August term build. “Habitat for Humanity exists to provide a home to people—a concept that I feel a lot of people take for granted,” he said. “There is a difference between what we call a ‘house’ and what we call a home—a home is something we can inhabit happily. The organization also provides humbling and eye-opening experiences to volunteers—including us college students—to realize how lucky we have it and to give back to a community like Lexington, which has already impacted us so much.”
Bobby Ray, the Lexington Habitat for Humanity ReStore volunteer coordinator, said the organization appreciates the Transylvania students, who help keep the spirit of volunteerism alive. “We’re always glad to have visits from Transy volunteers at the Lexington Habitat ReStores: We know that we’ll make a lot of progress to accomplish our mission and that it will happen with enthusiasm and a smile.”