Habitat for Humanity 7 Rivers was founded in 1991 with the goal of assisting low-income families with their housing needs by building sustainable housing, repairing houses and modifying existing homes. Since its founding, 7 Rivers has cultivated a fruitful relationship with many local institutions, including Bowdoin. Before the pandemic, a club called Bowdoin Build volunteered to build houses for 7 Rivers, and since the pandemic, the sailing team has begun a relationship with the organization.
Caleb Adams-Hull ’23, a member of the sailing team’s leadership council, was instrumental in making this relationship possible.
“The partnership arose from a desire for the team to use our downtime in our offseason to make connections with the community such that we can grow closer as a team, but also acknowledge the degree of privilege that we have to do sailing as a sport and how important it is to continue to give back,” Adams-Hull said.
Coming into this role, Adams-Hull wanted to reform how the team did community service by focusing on continuing partnerships with local groups.
Adams-Hull sees this relationship as a model that other Bowdoin teams could emulate.
“In past years, we’ve had sort of sporadic temporary relationships with various organizations where we do good work, but then it comes to an end and we have to move on to the next,” he said. “My idea coming into this position at the end of the fall was to rethink how we approach volunteering in a way that would allow us to sort of create a lasting relationship with an organization.”
One way that the sailing team involves themselves at 7 Rivers is at the organization’s ReStore, where affordable home improvement products are available to the public for purchase. Additionally, in a sustainability measure to reduce landfill waste, the store resales items ranging from unwanted building materials to appliances and furniture.
Adam Lacher, executive director of 7 Rivers, is enthusiastic about Bowdoin’s involvement in the organization and believes it reflects 7 Rivers mission which is rooted in empathy and compassion.
“I always like to think of the ReStore as having two sides. There’s the human integrity side, literally putting the tools and the materials in people’s hands to do what they want with them and build a life,” Lacher said. “And then there’s the human dignity side, that everyone should have the basics to have a decent place to live. And so we’ve been really happy to have that commitment from Bowdoin and the student body.”
On Tuesday, with the help of the sailing team, bidding for the second annual Love to Build auction commenced. Interested community members will have until February 28 to bid on a large collection of items, ranging from eighteenth century style Dutch paintings to modern sculptures. The auction will benefit 7 Rivers in its mission to provide housing services to those in need in the southern midcoast region.
Lacher explained that the organization’s costs have risen, and fundraisers like this are essential for continuing their work in supporting homeownership for low-income families.
Last year’s Love to Build auction was the group’s first time organizing a fundraiser by themselves. The idea was formed when local artist Val Upham connected with Lacher, and she donated her work to the auction. This year the auction has expanded while still including pieces by Upham for a total of 80 donated items, surpassing last year’s two dozen.
“In 2010–2012 it cost us about $90,000 to build a decent place to live, and to build that same home today costs about $225,000,” Lacher said. “Events like the Love to Build art auction helps us bring in dollars to buy the materials, but it also helps us raise our profile and raise the issues around what we’re trying to do.”