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Wednesday, September 18, 2019

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Habitat for Humanity offers great opportunities for volunteers

Habitat for Humanity offers great opportunities for volunteers

Last week I attended the ribbon-cutting ceremony and dedication of the Habitat for Humanity’s new offices on Jackson Street in Thibodaux. Workers renovated the building that was formally the Habitat Restore and is now a beautiful office complex. Since I was a former board member, the staff invited me to give the invocation for the ceremony.

Habitat is a Christian-based organization that believes that “our work is to show the love and teachings of Jesus, acting with the belief that God’s love and grace abound for all.” They proclaim, “We must be the ‘hands and feet’ of that love and grace in our world.”

They manifest God’s love by creating opportunities for all people to live in decent, durable shelters. They put their faith into action by helping to build homes, and by partnering with others to make affordable housing available for people who want to break the cycle of poverty.

Those who qualify to receive a home must be able to pay for the materials and the professional labor that goes in the construction of the home. The homes, however, are interest free. The family must also put in hundreds of hours of construction time in the building phase. Volunteers are an important part of the cost saving element in building a home.

While I was at the office, I met a group of law students from University of New Brunswick in Canada. They came to Thibodaux during their spring break to work on houses. I also met Barbara Ludwig who is a “professional volunteer” who came to Louisiana in her 6'x9' cargo trailer. She goes around the country to various building sites helping with the construction of new homes. The following are her reflections.

“I love Louisiana! Wow! From the moment that I crossed the high arching bridge into Louisiana (from Texas) and from its apex viewed the river stretching out in front of me, I was enchanted. It is a watery, lush, go with the flow kind of place with delights around every corner and smiling faces that have no issue with waving at a stranger.

“Many are surprised (or maybe think I’m nuts) when they discover that a ‘home free woman’ is volunteering to build homes for others. Also, that I travel on a wing and a prayer. A perfect example of how well I am taken care of was when I arrived here in Thibodaux two weeks ago with less than a quarter tank of gas and $1.05. On Wednesday, a package from M.M. arrived that included a one hundred-dollar bill! Wow!

“Habitat for Humanity draws in a diverse group of volunteers. During my time volunteering here, I have found myself working with a confirmed bachelor, who has become my car pool buddy and is another full time wanderer from Iowa. There are, also, two retired physical therapists and a teacher from Portland, Oregon and Colorado.

“We have 18 college students from the University of Guelph in Ontario, Canada, who were surprised that I actually knew where it was and how to pronounce it! Let’s not forget the local volunteers who cook goodies for us like jambalaya! Yum! I have been warned that builds (house construction) are classified by how much weight one gains and that Thibodaux has the reputation of being a ten-pound build! Yikes! I may be in trouble!

“One aspect of being a volunteer is the socializing that occurs. For the college students, it was a foray to Bourbon Street, a Frat party in Baton Rouge and an LSU basketball game. For the older faction, it’s been shared meals, music, visiting a local church and cutthroat card games.”

To get in on the fun of building houses, contact the Habitat for Humanity office in Thibodaux by calling 985-447-6999.