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Monday, Feb. 26, 2024
The Observer

Student creates Habitat for Humanity chapter at SMC

Saint Mary's students volunteered their time to build walls for “Women Build,” a project by Habitat for Humanity. Junior Kay Thursby started a Saint Mary’s chapter of Habitat for Humanity and she — along with other Saint Mary's students — participated in the project as their first event.

Thursby said in an email that Habitat for Humanity has always been an instrumental part of her life.

“I have been involved with Habitat for Humanity since high school,” she said. “I was really involved in my high school youth group at Old St. Pat's in Chicago, and we went on service trips every summer. After I graduated, I served as the intern for the youth group and helped plan and execute these service trips.

“I have been doing that the last three summers and have coordinated with over six Habitat for Humanity affiliates. [Habitat for Humanity] is by far my favorite non-profit.”

Thursby has always wanted to help the St. Joseph chapter of Habitat for Humanity, she said. But in order to do so, she had to establish a chapter of Habitat for Humanity at Saint Mary’s.

“Ever since freshman year, I have always wanted to become involved with the St. Joseph Affiliate, but just never really seemed to have the time to do it,” she said. “This year, I came knowing that I was going to volunteer, but quickly discovered that there wasn't a campus chapter here, but there was a strong desire to have it. So, I decided to take it upon myself and start it.”

Habitat for Humanity is about improving the lives of those in need as well as the lives of everyone in the community, Thursby said.

“Habitat for Humanity is an extremely important non-profit because of their commitment to truly bettering society,” she said. “People often think of charity work as just giving things away and this isn't true, especially with [Habitat for Humanity]. Homeowners are required to volunteer hundreds of hours in order to receive a home, and I think that this is extremely important, not only in the efficiency of Habitat, but also in the sense of ownership the homeowners truly feel. It’s a tough and long process of obtaining a Habitat house, but, based on every testimony from homeowners I have talked to, it's always worth it.”

The Saint Mary’s students involved in the new chapter participated in their first ever event Saturday to help “Women Build,” an event that began with a group women who wanted to build and provide affordable housing for everyone.

“Women Build is a Habitat for Humanity-wide event in which every affiliate picks a homeowner and the whole construction of their home has to be completed — at the very minimum — by 60 percent of women,” she said. “On Saturday, we constructed all the walls for the home. We put together over thirty-five walls with some other volunteers. It was really inspiring and rewarding actually being able to see the work we did. As our first chapter event, it was a major success.”

Junior Morgan Klein was one of the volunteers who helped with Women Build. She said she had never been exposed to Habitat to Humanity before, but when Thursby started a campus chapter, she found more information and became excited about finding a new way to serve the community.

“It’s a really amazing way to give back to the community,” Klein said. “A lot of students are always looking for new ways to serve and [Habitat for Humanity] is a great way to help people and spend meaningful time doing something that can make everyone’s life better.”

Thursby said the volunteers are the reason Habitat for Humanity can help so many people.

“Without volunteers, Habitat for Humanity would not be nearly as successful as they are,” she said. “They truly rely on volunteers, so there would be so many less people living in affordable housing without [Habitat for Humanity] and its volunteers.”

Sophomore volunteer Micaela Petrarca said in an email that she is proud of the Saint Mary’s Chapter of Habitat for Humanity.

“I'm proud of our president Kay Thursby for making this club and introducing Habitat to me,” Petrarca said.“It's an amazing organization and I'm so happy to be a part of it now.”

All students are welcome to join the Saint Mary’s Chapter of Habitat for Humanity, Thursby said.

“Any and all students are more than welcome to become members of our campus chapter,” she said. “It’s never too late to become involved, and the more members we have, the more work we can do.”