Habitat for Humanity
Habitat for Humanity is a international nonprofit Christian organization. It is dedicated to eliminating substandard housing and homelessness worldwide and to making adequate, affordable shelter a matter of conscience and action.
The concept that grew into Habitat for Humanity International was born at Koinonia Farm, a small, interracial, Christian community outside of Americus, Georgia. At Koinonia, the concept of "partnership housing" was developed. The concept centered on those in need of adequate shelter working side by side with volunteers to build simple, decent houses.
Habitat for Humanity ReStores is a nonprofit home improvement store and donation center that sells new and gently used furniture, home accessories, building materials, and appliances to the public at a fraction of the retail price. All of the proceeds go to the home building process.
"My community partner was Habitat for Humanity. Throughout this semester, I have learned so much about the Pittsburgh community in which I attend school. I have always known that there were people around me who were less fortunate as I was, but I never had the chance to see it with my own eyes. From high school, I was the definition of a useless volunteer. I did whatever I had to so that I could go home and write it on my resume. I, personally, have taken the values learned in Sciecne at the Service of Society and applied them to the community partner and to others in my life. From working at the Habitat for Humanity ReStore in Beaver and Allegheny Counties, I finally saw the impact I was having on other's lives. By looking and talking to the families who came in asking for help, my fellow service learners and I were able to refined our leadership skills and look beyond our lives in order to focus and help the people in the stores. This revelation changed the way we look at any situation now."
- Caroline Mackay, Forensic Science & Law, B.S. May 2014, M.S. May 2015
"At the beginning of the semester I was excited to work with Habitat for Humanity, since I know about the different projects they take on throughout the community. Like most people, when I thought about Habitat for Humanity I was assuming we would be volunteering to help build houses. Instead, my group and I ended up working at the ReStore. While I must admit, I was not a big supporter of the early Saturday morning wake-up calls, I truly enjoyed the time I got to spend at the Habitat for Humanity ReStores, and each experience was unique. I am very proud of what we had accomplished and I was happy I was able to make things a little easier on the employees, since they do so much to keep the store up and running. Once we went to the ReStore in Pittsburgh. When we got there we put on aprons and were told we were going to be spread throughout the store acting as customer service. This made me slightly anxious, since I am not always comfortable with striking up a conversation with someone I don't know. We had the opportunity to interact with the customer one-on-one. At the beginning I simply said good morning to people. However, as the day wore on I found myself talking more and more and I had long conversations with a few patrons. I found it wasn't so much talking to the people as it was about listening to what they had to say.Overall, I found working at the ReStores to be a very rewarding and enlightening experience. I have had time to reflect, and I have found I still have much to learn, though I have also managed to surprise myself with what I was able to accomplish. In general, this experience has helped to remind me about what is important, and it also served as a reminder that life is truly about the journey more than the destination."
- Kelsey Guest, Forensic Science & Law, B.S. May 2014, M.S. May 2015
"The community partner I was partnered with was Habitat for Humanity at a Habitat ReStore right around where I grew up in Beaver Falls, PA, which meant a lot to me. After hearing all the good that the ReStore was doing in Beaver Falls, I felt myself having some passion toward really wanting to help improve the area where I grew up. We did such a good job and helped to inspire others just by having a good work ethic and a passion to improve the community. That feeling was just awesome and unreal. That feeling made me really excited to be a service leader again. Then at the ReStore in Pittsburgh, I was able to help a family who lost everything the night before in a fire. This family had no food or means to cook food. I was able to help them find some cooking instruments so that they could eat later that night.
People say that everything is connected and no good deed goes unnoticed. I have to agree. Spending the time to serve others as leaders starts a cascade of service leaders. Our actions at the ReStore in Beaver Falls inspired the other co-workers to become even better service leaders. Our actions at the ReStore in Pittsburgh inspired the people we listened to to become even better listeners themselves."
- Leah Ali, Forensic Science & Law, B.S. May 2014, M.S. May 2015
"The experience I have gained through my involvement in Science at the Service of Society Learning and gaining the educational aspect, I was able to gain an outlook on the experience other than simply volunteering. Because of Service Learning, I participated in this experience with the intentions of not simply considering my involvement in the service, but also my ability to take leadership in order to achieve a better goal.
Additionally, by participating in Habitat for Humanities I gained better knowledge and experiences that were previously outside of my familiarity. The experience was extremely humbling in that I was able to see the time and energy that is given by their volunteers in order to aid and improve the organization. They receive no compensation and have been able to build and develop a great program for not only for those locally but those across the world.
Service learning and this experience has challenged me to break that shell and start to learn to not only ask questions and get more involved but also allowed me to realize the rewards and benefits that come along with doing so. By becoming more involved and using better communicational skills and leadership skills. By doing so, I was able to both learn more about what I was servicing for and helped me walk away with a better experience."
- Nicole Gallo, Forensic Science & Law, B.S. May 2014, M.S. May 2015