Bowdoin builds house, relationship with family
After devoting the past year to fundraising, the Bowdoin chapter of Habitat for Humanity has begun constructing a house for a family of six.
Called the "Bowdoin Builds!" project, Bowdoin Habitat started building early this fall on a lot in Bowdoinham. Since the groundbreaking on September 11, groups of students have traveled to the building site every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.
Currently, the floor is in place and four walls are standing. With the help of student workers, Habitat aims to construct the roof in the coming weeks. "We need to close the house before the bad weather comes," explained Film Studies professor and Bowdoin Builds co-chair Tricia Welsch, who organizes the food for Habitat builders every weekend. The project will "hopefully be done in March" according to Claire Black '04, also a co-chair, who has helped organize the Bowdoin chapter of Habitat, although she maintains that the date is subject to change.
Students that have spent the day building have voiced positive reviews. Nick Ordway '06 worked on the house during Common Good Day. "Everyone there was having fun and we were doing it for a good cause," he remembered. Nick Walker '04 noted that he enjoys the concrete aspect of building for Habitat: "With Habitat, you can see right before your eyes the effects of your charity."
The family that will eventually live in the house, a couple with four children under the age of seven, often visits the building site. The father is a carpenter, and often works alongside the Bowdoin students. "It's been a lot of fun getting to know the family and learning their perspectives," Black said. Welsch agreed, "You never regret the work that you do to make something like this happen."
Most Bowdoin students sign up to build without any previous experience. At the site, they divide into smaller teams and work with a "team leader," a student who has built before and who others can "look to for guidance" according to Walker, a team leader, who adds that it is "about committing a certain amount of time, and above all being patient.
The family works together with Habitat to construct the house, and will pay a reduced mortgage once they occupy their home. They currently live in a two-bedroom apartment in the Brunswick area, and will double their living space by moving into the house.
Although they have begun work on the house, Habitat is still looking to raise money. "We're really hoping for support from student groups," Welsch said. The group has recently acquired a piece of sheathing that will be used in the roof of the house where anyone who donates money can sign their name. "Bowdoin Builds!" is also still searching for volunteers to build on the weekends.
Habitat for Humanity constructs affordable housing in partnership with families in an effort to eliminate substandard low-income housing. Families apply to build a house and are selected based on income and willingness to collaborate with Habitat. All the materials used in the Bowdoinham house will either be purchased with money raised by Bowdoin Habitat or are donated by local builders.