When this post publishes, I’ll be a few hours away from my normal residence, devoid of telephone or email, and hanging with high school students. No, I’m not creepy, and I’m not a luddite. My side job is working as the Children and Youth Programs Associate for a church in DC. As part of a larger group of churches, we’re headed to Franklin, West Virginia to work with a Habitat for Humanity affiliate for a week.
Whatevs, right? Maybe you did some Habitat for Humanity stuff for your college application or at you at least know how to use a hammer (sure, IKEA counts). Why is this a big deal? What makes it so cool? All of these reasons:
- They were building before I could eat solid food, and they’re doing a great job at it. Since incorporated in 1989, Almost Heaven has built 110 houses.
- Look at the map. Notice anything about that little line of blue? It’s the Potomac River. Some of the water that ran past me in the three years I lived in DC also ran past Franklin. It was theirs first.
- They have a fantastic Facebook page. Check it out, and you’ll maybe even get a preview of our work from this week.
- If you are selected to become a homeowner, you pay no interest on your loan. Almost Heaven quotes Exodus, saying “If you lend money to my people, to the poor among you, you shall not deal with them as a creditor, you shall not exact interest from them.” Regardless of your faith tradition, religious preferences, or lack thereof, the idea of a community invested in serving each other, providing for each other in this way, is pretty inspiring.
- Habitat owners work for their homes. In addition to the application process and paying off the loan, they give sweat equity. Each able-bodied adult contributes 250 hours of work to the local branch, sometimes working on a house, completing repairs, or assisting in the Habitat office,
- Habitat assists future homeowners with classes on credit and debt management, which prepares them for something far beyond my understanding. It also prevents unfortunate situations like the Marreros of Extreme Makeover, where a family loses a home because of the extensive property taxes and utilities costs.
- Because the affiliate was doing work before it joined with Habitat for Humanity and Habitat rules on age limits, Almost Heaven is able to allow some youth to do work, whereas most Habitat locations require workers to be 18. As someone who works with a younger crowd, I’m grateful they get this opportunity.
While I could continue to rant and rave, I should probably start packing. How much work could I get done without my boots?