Even though it’s still over a month away, Christmas came early for two lucky families in Columbus.
Volunteers, families and members of local churches gathered Sunday afternoon to watch the Whitney and Fuller families receive keys to their newly finished homes. The dedication ceremony capped off a six-month building process.
The Ohio State campus chapter for Habitat for Humanity played a significant role in the construction and completion of one of the homes.
Members of OSU’s chapter worked with volunteers from the Hilliard Adopt-A-House organization and the Wells Fargo Foundation. In all, a total of 5,589 hours were spent working on the two homes.
“This is something we love to do,” said Kim Kaiser, president of the OSU chapter addressing the crowd. “It’s such a privilege.”
Kaiser, who is a senior in actuarial sciences, said the house was her “second build” in Columbus.
“It was nice to see the house completed from start to finish,” she said. “I think Habitat is definitely something people like to be involved with. It was good to see how excited the kids were.”
Ohio State had 54 students who spent time framing walls, applying installation and dry-walling, among other things, since May.
Anywhere from 10 to 15 members showed up each weekend during the Spring and Fall Quarters Kaiser said.
Ohio State has been involved with Habitat for Humanity since 1993.
The tenants of the houses are required to pay an interest-free mortgage. They must be a first time homeowner, and have lived in “substandard housing.” The bills they pay go towards buying supplies and necessary things for other houses which are being built. One of their most common phrases is that “it is not a hand-out, but a hand-up.”
“It’s not a free house,” Kaiser said. “That’s one of the most common misconceptions.”
Junior Erin Rodgers was also on site to see the finishing touches. Rodgers, a student in International Studies, is in her third year with Habitat for Humanity at Ohio State. Having no construction experience beforehand, Rodgers hopes to continue working with Habitat until she graduates.
“It’s not like anything else you can do volunteer-wise,” said Rodgers, who has been involved with building four houses during college, two of which were in South Carolina.
Kaiser said OSU’s chapter likes to try and complete two builds per year, however it’s not as easy as some would think.
In order to be assigned a house, donations must be made toward Habitat for Humanity, and being a college organization, funds can run thin, Kaiser said. In order to work on one of the houses that was part of the ceremony Sunday, Kaiser said over $10,000 were donated.
“Fundraising is definitely our biggest challenge,” she said.
Rodgers agreed. “If you want to volunteer, you basically have to pay a lot of money,” she said.
However, on Sunday afternoon there was only praise to go around. Saundra Fuller, owner of the new home that Ohio State volunteers worked on, was very grateful.
Fuller said the six month process of strangers building her a new home was somewhat of a shock.
“It changed my views. When you come, you fit right in. It’s not what I expected at all,” she said. “It was kind of like another family.”
A mother of two, Fuller also said the acts of kindness have even influenced her young son.
“He came out on the porch with a fake shovel waiting to dig up a rock,” she said.
In looking to the future, Kaiser hopes to continue making an impact. She said OSU is in the process of securing a spring build.
“It’s definitely a rewarding experience,” she said. “You just get a lot out of it.”
Anyone who is interested in joining OSU’s Habitat for Humanity chapter can visit their Web site at habitatforhumanity.osu.edu or contact Kim Kaiser at firstname.lastname@example.org.