Habitat for Humanity and AmeriCorps in Robbins, Tennessee

The Business Advisor
(Stephen R. Donat)
December 2, 2011
For the fifth summer since graduating from high school, I have had the opportunity to travel with Fordham Prep students to Robbins, Tennessee to help build a future for some of the most selfless and deserving people I have ever encountered. Working hand-in-hand with Habitat for Humanity employees and AmeriCorps volunteers, I have been a small part of a growing organization that has sheltered close to two million people worldwide.

Habitat relies on volunteer service trips and donations to build simple and affordable single-family homes. During our weeklong trips, I have participated and chaperoned students in all aspects of home construction. To date, the Fordham Prep community has raised over $600,000 for lumber and other building materials, has personally donated more than ten homes, and has volunteered countless hours constructing more than 50 homes within Scott and Morgan Counties in Tennessee.

In the brief amount of downtime away from the worksite, we involve ourselves with the community and experience the sincerity and kindness of those who are thankful for what we do. One early morning, we may have a cup of coffee with the owner of the local hardware store or lumber yard. These businesspeople mention that because of our contributions and Habitat’s consistent business, their stores are able to grow and employ staffs to keep up with our demands. During the evenings, we may be invited by local community organizations or churches to potluck dinners or barbeques to enjoy each other’s company and stories.

In all, the experiences I remember from each summer’s trip is not only of “a hammer and a nail” but, rather, a sense of community, friendship, and generosity. Over the years, I have stayed in touch with many of Habitat’s recipients. They have congratulated me on my career and aspirations, and I have returned letters wishing them happiness as they celebrate milestones, from the birth of a new family member to a 50th wedding anniversary, as well as simply having a safe home to live in and grow together with their families.