Habitat for Humanity volunteers build houses from the ground up

Fourteen students from GW’s Habitat for Humanity chapter traveled to Mount Rainier, Md., Saturday to help build a house, a project organized by the organization’s Prince George’s County chapter.


Because the GW chapter lacks the trained architects, skilled carpenters and other artisans required to build a house from the ground up, they contribute to projects organized by local Habitat for Humanity chapters, members said.

The house’s foundation was laid in September, but GW students have only been recently involved.

The families who will live in the houses helped the volunteers with the construction. Families are selected by committees and are expected to donate “sweat equity,” meaning they must work on their house alongside volunteers. Builds last from one week to six months.

Habitat for Humanity also provides no-interest loans to families. The monthly payments go to support future builds.

Sophomore Tracy Rudne said she volunteers because the program teaches useful skills.

“I think it’s really fun,” Rudne said. “I like learning things, like using a hammer and electric saw.”

The groups’ members said plans are in the works to ensure some of those builds will be fully organized and carried out by college students.

Several local university chapters have begun to discuss plans to work together with the D.C. Habitat for Humanity chapter to organize a build of their own. The effort will be led by freshman Pat Berry, who is GW’s representative to the college consortium.

Georgetown and Catholic universities have begun a fund-raising drive to purchase building supplies.

“D.C. chapter is kind of dragging its feet,” said Berry, who began working with Habitat for Humanity in high school.

“(Students) need to show D.C. that we’re serious by working on the fund-raisers,” Berry said.

Other projects in the works include a spring break build in Jacksonville, Fla., which will be led by Mike Hankey, president of the GW chapter.

Hankey said he is optimistic about the future of the GW chapter, which began three years ago with a handful of students. The chapter now has more than 300 members and participates in a build every two weeks.

“We are more consistent now,” Hankey said. “We are organizing fund-raisers, have more regulars at the build and a lot more freshmen are getting involved.”

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