Habitat-feature

UWGB Habitat: Building community for two decades

As UW-Green Bay celebrates its 50th Anniversary another UWGB entity is also celebrating a milestone — The UWGB Collegiate Chapter of Habitat for Humanity is in its 20th year, and with it, a special Anniversary Celebration Alumni Build is in the works.

On Saturday, October 17, in conjunction with Greater Green Bay Habitat for Humanity, UWGB Habitat alumni will work on two neighboring houses on Chicago Street in Green Bay.

Twenty-four volunteers are sought for four-hour shifts in the morning or afternoon (8 a.m. to noon and 11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.) with lunch midday provided by current members of the campus chapter.

The event provides an opportunity to reunite and reminisce, while helping the campus archivist fill in gaps on the history of the organization, and at the same time provide homes for two deserving families in Green Bay.

habitat-roofLooking back… on May 25, 1995, UW-Green Bay was granted campus chapter status by Habitat for Humanity International. In the two decades since, literally hundreds of UW-Green Bay students have contributed to the cause of eliminating homelessness and providing safe, decent affordable housing to deserving families — in Green Bay, throughout the United States, and around the world. For many of those students, their participation in Collegiate Challenge trips was among the most significant and memorable experiences of their college careers.

Over the course of 20 years, UWGB students participated in at least 24 winter, spring or summer break trips throughout the United States and to two foreign countries to build homes for families in need.

Destinations included affiliate hosts in the Northeast (Connecticut) the South (Mississippi, Texas, Louisiana, Florida, Alabama), the South Central U.S. (North and South Carolina, Kentucky, Missouri, Virginia). the Eastern U.S. (Pennsylvania, Connecticut) and the West (New Mexico, Arizona). Teams traveled to South Africa and to the Philippines on international trips and many students contributed Saturday hours to local home-building projects with Greater Green Bay Habitat for Humanity or volunteering at the Habitat ReStore.

habitat-framingHabitat builds are far from vacations. Prior to a build, students must first spend a semester conducting fundraisers to raise money to cover trip costs. Then, over winter or spring break, they travel hundreds of miles by bus or van, stay for a week in very modest housing (typically a church basement or volunteer center), share just a couple of showers/bathrooms, and spend the bulk of their “break” time laboring — framing, roofing, putting up siding, insulating, hanging drywall or painting. They return from their college break more exhausted than when they left. But almost to the last one, they say the experience was incomparable, and the satisfaction of working together to provide a deserving family a home is its own reward. So gratifying was the experience that many students participated in three or four Collegiate Challenge trips during their college years.

Organizers would appreciate securing volunteers by October 2.

Many trips through the years have been documented on the UWGB Habitat for Humanity Facebook page.

Join the event on Facebook.

Feature by Mike Stearney, former Dean of Enrollment Services and longtime Habitat for Humanity Student Adviser