April 17, 2018
April 9, 2018
GREENVILLE, SC / Voices
'Habitat for Humanity isn’t really about building houses'
A little more than 25 percent of Greenvillians volunteer each year.
Think about that number for a few seconds. One in four people. In a county of almost half a million people, that is 125,000 who give their own time to help someone else. Or something else. These people – the volunteers and the people getting help from volunteers – aren’t strangers to you. They are people you know. They are people we know.
For a little more than 33 years, Habitat for Humanity of Greenville County has benefited from this volunteering. These volunteers from everywhere. In the past 12 months alone, we have seen groups of women, groups of church leaders, a group of Riverside High students and most recently a large group of business leaders come together to build a home for someone via Habitat.
Actually, the business leaders in our CEO Build are actively working on the 350th home for Greenville County. That is a milestone that we and they are proud of.
But Habitat isn’t really about building houses. Habitat is really in the business of transforming families. So, how does Habitat make the jump from bricks and mortars to transforming families? It is simple. Every house built by Habitat volunteers changes a family through affordable homeownership. Study after study shows that homeownership leads to better school performance – improved attendance, higher reading levels and math scores for students. In Habitat Greenville’s 2014 survey of homeowners, 69 percent reported that their children’s grades have improved and 58 percent said a family member has completed a degree or training program. It also leads to a greater chance of graduating high school. It leads to greater community involvement.
And we realize that we are part of a greater effort about volunteering in Greenville.
Volunteering is an effective way to bolster a community, and perhaps now more than ever Greenville needs volunteers to ensure the rapid growth of the city doesn’t leave anyone behind. Most importantly, it’s vital for everyone in the community to get involved as volunteers, no matter their age or occupation, as there are a multitude of lessons to be learned along the way.
Kids can build confidence, socialization skills, and learn from a young age how important it is to help improve the communities in which they live. Volunteer work is also a great chance for parents to teach children about how what they’re doing connects to society, i.e. the value of food to a hungry family and how vital soup kitchens are for the needy. Most groups have child-friendly resources like these from Habitat for Humanity.
In addition to the benefits above, teenagers gain the addition of taking on a new challenge without the help of parents. There is ample adult-guided opportunity in volunteer work to learn something new, accomplish a difficult task, or participate in a team while contributing to a goal that is larger than winning a football game or wearing the coolest shirt. Volunteering with a group of friends or a youth group can help the experience seem less intimidating!
Volunteering opens up a myriad of opportunities for adults to connect with like-minded individuals at volunteer sites, learn new skills, bond with fellow co-workers, and have a welcome release from the pressures of a full-time job. skills, network, and support the needs of an Upstate family.
Banding together to increase the number of volunteer hours can provide excellent an experience for people of all ages and backgrounds while helping to solve some of the issues our Upstate community faces on a day-to-day basis. Ultimately, it would be exciting to see the volunteer rate in Greenville increase from just over a quarter to fifty percent or even seventy-five percent!