Global Mindset. Local Footprint.

By Emma Livingston, Co-editor

On Saturday, September 12th, 17 Thunderbird students dragged themselves out of bed just after dawn and assembled in front of the pub. Their mission: Work in partnership with Habitat for Humanity to help build a decent, affordable house for a low income Maricopa County resident.

Net Impact president Leah Funk at the Habitat build site (photo courtesy of Shelly Taflinger)
Net Impact president Leah Funk at the Habitat build site (photo courtesy of Shelly Taflinger)

The event was organized by Leah Funk (MA ’15, US), president of the Thunderbird chapter of Net Impact, a non-profit organization of ‘student and professional leaders creating positive social and environmental change in the workplace and the world.’

“This was the first Net Impact group volunteer event we’ve done and it was wonderful to see so many T-Birds give up part of their day to contribute to Habitat for Humanity,” Leah says.

The T-Bird volunteers pulled up to a partially built Habitat home in the suburb of Peoria. Steve, the volunteer “house leader”, introduced us to Luz, the woman who will be receiving a no-interest loan in order to buy the house once it’s completed. He also introduced us to the Habitat for Humanity business model. Habitat, Steve told us, offers “a hand up not a hand out.” The organization makes it possible for low to mid income families to buy safe, affordable housing. In exchange for the no-interest loan, Habitat families are required to attend classes in responsible home ownership, put in 400 hours of work building their house (what Habitat refers to as “sweat equity”), and of course, make timely monthly payments on their loan.

Habitat for Humanity logo (photo courtesy of www.habitat.org)
Habitat for Humanity logo (photo courtesy of www.habitat.org)

Habitat helps keep construction costs low and the community engaged by using volunteer labor to build their homes. That’s where the T-Bird volunteers came in. House Leader Steve set us to work putting up drywall on the ceiling. Drywall is screwed directly onto the roof trusses and studs to form the interior ceilings and walls of a home. Our tools were:

12′ x 8′ pieces of drywall:

Alina Buzgar helps carry 12' x 8' piece of drywall (photo courtesy of Shelly Taflinger)
Alina Buzgar helps carry 12′ x 8′ piece of drywall (photo courtesy of Shelly Taflinger)

Drywall lifts:

drywall in place
Drywall raised to the roof trusses using the drywall lift (photo courtesy of Shelly Taflinger)
Drywall Lifter
Close up of the useful drywall lift (photo courtesy of Shelly Taflinger)

Tape measures:

Leah Funk effectively uses a tape measure in the background, while Billie Fox gleefully uses a automatic drill (photo courtesy of Shelly Taflinger)
Leah Funk effectively uses a tape measure in the background, while Billie Fox gleefully uses a automatic drill (photo courtesy of Shelly Taflinger)

T-square:

Chris Roderman and Laura Kroger use a t-square to ensure their line is straight (photo courtesy of Shelly Taflinger)
Chris Roderman and Laura Kroger use a t-square to ensure their line is straight (photo courtesy of Shelly Taflinger)

Pencil:

Laura Kroger rocks the pencil tool (photo courtesy of Shelly Taflinger)
Laura Kroger rocks the pencil tool (photo courtesy of Shelly Taflinger)

Drywall Screws

We keep the drywall screws in the apron (photo courtesy of Shelly Taflinger)
We keep the drywall screws in the work apron (photo courtesy of Shelly Taflinger)

Last, but certainly not least, drills:

Artistic view of a drill (photo courtesy of Shelly Taflinger)
Artistic view of a drill (photo courtesy of Shelly Taflinger)

For 5 hours, as the temperature in the house rose with the sun, Thunderbird Net Impact volunteers cut, measured, held heavy sheets of drywall above their heads and screwed the pieces snuggly in place. By quitting time at noon, the students were sweaty and exhausted, but the ceiling was much more than halfway completed and Luz’s house was one step closer to being move-in ready.

The delicate art of building (photo courtesy of Shelly Taflinger)
The delicate art of building (photo courtesy of Shelly Taflinger)

Leah Funk is planning more Net Impact community engagement opportunities. To find out more about the organization, email Leah at leah.funk@global.t-bird.edu.

To learn more about Habitat for Humanity Central Arizona volunteer opportunities, check out their website at http://habitatcaz.org/.

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