You can make a difference: Volunteer in your community

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You can make a difference: Volunteer in your community


Illustration By Anna Johnson

Habitat for Humanity: Hands needed, tools optional
By Sarah Richards

Pensacola Habitat for Humanity builds energy efficient, quality homes and sells them to eligible families in need of affordable housing at cost with a no-interest loan. The homes aren’t given away, but neither does the organization turn a profit on them, as mortgage payments are used to build additional homes.  

All Habitat homes are single family homes (3-4 bedrooms), and recipients are permitted to choose their neighborhood and décor to help make it their own. Recipients must give 200 hours of “sweat equity” so they are invested in their dwelling before they can move into their Habitat House, which they will own.  

“Habitat” has helped people become successful homeowners. Families must make at least $18K minimum (even a family of one), and maximum incomes vary. A family of four, for example, must not gross more than $49,450, so that those who need “habitat help” will get it.

Melanie Jacobi, the Director of Volunteer Services at Pensacola Habitat for Humanity,  says, “The work that we do here is something everyone can be a part of.”  Building a house is a team effort, and benefits families around the globe, as homeownership is still very much a part of any country’s dream.  When it’s made affordable, it becomes an attainable dream.

The Pensacola Habitat provides six areas where people can volunteer. The first is the ReStore. The thrift store accepts donations for housewarming and housebuilding items like tools, lumber, decorations, furniture and appliances.  

There is a need for people who will clean items that may have been sitting in someone’s garage; sales floor help are also needed. The shifts are Tuesday-Saturday, 10 a.m.-6 p.m., at 5810 North Palafox.

The second is office help. These are akin to unpaid internships which is great for those majoring in Communications, Graphic Design, or social work. Shifts are Monday-Friday, 8 a.m.-5 p.m.

The third is the Neighborhood Revitalization program where volunteers can work with residents to help improve their homes and outdoor spaces. Areas such as West Side Garden District, Brownsville and Cantonment have been improved this way. Projects such as these are set up on a scheduled basis.

The fourth is the Global Village Project, encompassing 90 countries. Global Village trips are comparable to a church mission. The next trip is to Guatemala, on March 4-12 of 2017.  You must pay airfare and a program fee of $1000, which covers all expenses once in the country such as lodging, transportation, meals, building materials, translation services, etc. The second is to Malawi, which costs $1700, plus airfare, but there are fundraising opportunities to help cover costs.

The fifth is the “Women Build Program,” where 120 women each commit to raising $600 and build for 1 day, the total coming to $72,000 which is enough for a Habitat House. The recipient family only pays for the materials, not the labor, which helps keep costs down. The Women Build takes place each October, but those interested can sign up now for more information about next year’s build.

The sixth is construction, but one doesn’t have to have construction experience to serve in this capacity. One doesn’t even have to know how to use tools; there are people onsite to help guide those who want to donate their time. Those ages 14 and above can help with painting and landscaping, and those 18 and over have limitless opportunities. “Habitat” volunteers range from spring breakers choosing to do a service project as a group to retirees who simply want something to do.

Currently, there is a service project in Century, Florida, being planned, due to February’s President’s Day tornado. One must sign-up in advance before showing up. The shifts are Tuesday-Saturday, 8 a.m.-3 p.m., and no experience is needed. Just bring lunch and water.

To volunteer, one must signup in advance and contact Kevin Thomas, Volunteer Coordinator, where he or she will be asked to complete the application online; if one would like to attend an optional orientation, it occurs on the first Wednesday of every month at 12 p.m. and the third Wednesday at 5:30 p.m., at 300 W. Leonard Street.

For more information, email, or call the Volunteer Services Department at (850) 434-5456.

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