When I was a student, I took a class on the analysis of natural disasters. It was paired with an experiential component that took us on an alternative spring break trip to New Orleans. My classmates and I learned about the effect of a natural disaster on the city’s inhabitants. We spent four days volunteering at a Habitat for Humanity site helping build homes in one of the wards that has been affected by the flooding. We helped paint and install siding on three different homes. I was hooked: Habitat for Humanity’s mission of revitalizing neighborhoods and empowering those who otherwise could not afford to do so, with the opportunity of successful home ownership struck a chord with me.
Ever since this experience, I have wanted to volunteer again with Habitat for Humanity, but had little chance as I moved towards graduating and developing my career. With previous companies I worked for, balancing an interest in volunteering with limited vacation days was a hard decision to make. However, once Jama began offering volunteer days as a benefit to employees, I knew I had the perfect chance to volunteer again. I decided to take up the opportunity to volunteer with Habitat and encourage my coworkers to do so as well. Ultimately, this lead to a great two days of volunteering and team-building.
In mid-March, myself and eight other Jamanians had the privilege of volunteering at the Habitat for Humanity Glisan Gardens in Gresham, OR, just east of Portland. In two days, we built and plumbed walls and worked on the joists for the second floor of a building.
It was a great experience and an awesome way to use our volunteer days. Glisan Gardens already has several homes built with families currently living in them, and is on track to complete several more over the next year. The future homeowners, in fact, helped us build walls alongside other volunteers.
Habitat for Humanity provides the opportunity of homeownership to families that would otherwise not have such an opportunity available to them. In addition to building homes in underserved communities, Habitat for Humanity acts as a bank, providing home-loans to these families, and ultimately providing a 0% interest loan with a payment fixed to 30% of income. This helps level the playing field and provide a way for families to build long-term wealth through home equity. Who wouldn’t get hooked on this empowering mission?
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