EDITORIAL: Students lay foundation for great future
Habitat for Humanity teaches important lessons about compassion
There are 94 low-income housing apartment complexes in Middlesex County, New Jersey, according to Affordable Housing Online. Within these complexes, there are 7,810 affordable apartments for rent. And Rutgers students are adding on to this.
The Habitat for Humanity Club at Rutgers congregated on Livingston campus to build a home for a low-income family in Middlesex County. This event was part of their annual "Build-a-Thon," which is a 24-hour event where students with Habitat for Humanity aid in the construction of a $50,000 home located in the Middlesex County area. This means that the club will pay for half of the house, as well as the materials needed to build it. For a group of college students, this may seem like a lofty goal, but Habitat for Humanity was able to obtain the money needed through fundraising and canning. Personal donations from the students were also used, and all of the money that was accumulated went directly into the building of this affordable home.
This was not just a weekend activity for those in Habitat for Humanity — it was a labor of love. Students were given the opportunity to visit the building site every weekend to work on it, as well as record the progress, and the students took advantage of this opportunity. The students are present and working for all of the steps of the process, from the laying of the foundation to painting the finished product. Students even slept overnight in the houses that they built so that they could raise awareness about homelessness and the importance of shelters and affordable housing. By the end of the experience, not only have students helped create houses for homeless people, but they also have a greater understanding of the struggles and challenges that these people face every day.
This process does not just give a sense of accomplishment to the students but also to those who end up getting the house. These families are given the opportunity to participate in “sweat equity,” which is a situation where they can decrease their financial struggle by contributing a certain amount of hours of construction work to the house. This way, families do not have to feel as though they are being given a handout, but rather that they are putting in work for their home. Although those in poverty have no reason to feel undignified, this can often be the case for those who do not have the means to provide for themselves. Getting the opportunity to contribute to their own houses is something that can go a long way in easing people’s feelings of pride.
The great thing about Habitat for Humanity and all of the work that they put in is that the reward ends up being far more than a house, and a house is not a small thing, especially for someone who has lived without shelter. Aside from actually providing quality shelter for homeless people, these students are making positive changes in their community. With classes every weekday and possible extra-curricular activities, these students are sacrificing their time on the weekend to build a house for someone they do not know. Habitat for Humanity is pushing the type of mindset and ideals that are necessary to mold future generations into more compassionate, empathetic and dedicated people. The club pushes for selflessness in every way possible.
Habitat for Humanity is a working system that demonstrates that Rutgers students are making more than just a positive impact on their campuses. They are changing the future for the better, not only for themselves but for every other person around them.