Habitat for Humanity Comes to Thunderbird

By Amanda Cardini, Staff Writer

Since 1976, Habitat for Humanity has built and renovated over 800,000 homes in communities across the globe. Tackling issues caused by natural disasters, housing instability and poverty, the organization is dedicated to creating a world in which everyone has a decent place to live, and they work toward that goal by providing affordable, adequate housing to low income families. As an international organization, Habitat has served over 1,300 communities in more than 70 countries. Habitat for Humanity handles almost every step of building a house from the ground up, including the laying the foundation, painting the house, and installing roofing.

Photo by Brandon Dovgan

Habitat for Humanity claims that housing can make an important difference in the quality of life of families. Surveys conducted among Habitat homeowners indicate improved  grades, financial health and parental confidence. Stress and fear have been shown to be less prominent in families with housing, enabling these families to live happier, healthier, and more stable lives.

Many families in need of Habitat’s help are dealing with much more than psychological strain. Health problems such as weight loss, sleep issues, and the onset of conditions such as diabetes can all be influenced by financial stress. For many families suffering from overcrowding, frequent moves or eviction, unstable housing is a major cause of distress. In addition to building homes, Habitat for Humanity provides financial education services to ensure that new homeowners have the skills and knowledge they need to live more financially stable lives.

In light of recent natural disasters, Habitat for Humanity is organizing several builds in Puerto Rico, Texas and Florida. It will be assessing shelter and housing needs as time goes on and resources become available, and is collecting donations in the meantime. Habitat has a history of helping natural disaster victims through its Disaster Response program, which is specifically designed to provide shelter assistance, education, training and partnerships to affected areas.

Photo by Brandon Dovgan

A core value of Habitat for Humanity is “sweat equity,” meaning that homeowners build their homes alongside Habitat volunteers. This makes for an incredibly heartwarming experience for volunteers who are then able to see the appreciation homeowner families have for the work Habitat for Humanity does. One success story tells of an ex-deputy sheriff named Michael who had to give up his job due to a stroke. He spoke about his experience building his new home alongside the countless Habitat volunteers:

“There are so many people who worked for me to be something, to get something,” Michael says. Now that he is in his home, Michael plans to volunteer with Habitat. “I just love Habitat,” he says, “so I will do more.”

Photo by Brandon Dovgan

Recently, Brandon Dovgan (MAGAM ’19) brought the organization to Thunderbird. As the previous president of the Habitat for Humanity club at Arizona State University, Brandon has a long history with the organization. He became involved his freshman year at ASU at the recommendation of a friend and was quickly hooked. He built 12-13 homes in his first year, and credits the Habitat mission and the motivated members he met along the way for encouraging his involvement. Upon coming to Thunderbird and realizing there was not a Habitat for Humanity club already in place, Brandon saw the perfect opportunity to continue serving the organization and involve his fellow students.

“I really want to bring the spirit of volunteerism to young professionals who can continue the legacy of helping the community,” he says. “Currently, much of the Arizona member base is older, and I want to make sure the organization continues to thrive once those members leave.”

The club promises to be a great way for Thunderbird students to get involved in Arizona’s communities in a big way. Providing hands-on volunteer work and face-to-face contact with the families being served, Habitat offers a way to make a real impact in the community.

The Thunderbird club has builds scheduled every other week, including this Saturday, October 14. Anyone is welcome to join; you don’t have to be a member of the club to get involved, and members have no requirements on how often they are expected to volunteer. Anyone interested in attending this Saturday can contact Brandon at bdovgan@asu.edu.

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