On June 4th, the AmeriCorps team at Habitat-SKC made their way to Longmont, CO to help build houses for four different Colorado affiliates. The week-long excursion known as Build-A-Thon is an annual event where Habitat affiliates from around the region (and in some cases across the nation) come together to concentrate on offering a robust amount of manpower to varying areas in their pursuit of meeting their local affordable housing needs.
The 2017 Build-A-Thon is the second year that Colorado has hosted the conference. After the 2013 flooding that was deemed a national natural disaster, resulting in a FEMA response, the Denver area experienced a massive uptick in their need for affordable housing options. The flooding devastated communities, particularly rural ones that were hard to get too and assist. Community volunteers were among the first responders, demonstrating the power of grassroots organizing. Four years later, communities affected by the disaster are still working to put their home and neighborhoods back together. The affordable housing shortage was deepened by the flooding and Habitat is working to address the need they are still seeing in the area.
Habitat-SKC AmeriCorps members met up with other AmeriCorps from places like Colorado, Hawaii, Alaska and the Colorado affiliates to offer a helping hand and participate in blitz builds. Additionally, two of the four work sites also had the help of other local volunteers and Habitat Care-a-Vanners who specifically travel from build-site to build-site across the nation, helping complete projects in areas where manpower can be low.
Habitat-SKC AmeriCorps focused on the Berthoud and Loveland work-sites. Some helped to landscape houses that families had already moved into after waiting for the house’s completion for years. Others worked on houses just beginning their development. A garage was attached to one house, and the framing and roof were put on another one.
While AmeriCorps who work on building houses on a weekly basis may be accustomed to the routine of building houses, Build-A-Thon provides unique opportunities for AmeriCorps who work on other aspects of Habitat for Humanity. For the ones who support the office staff and program development of Habitat, building for a week straight allowed them to connect with Habitat’s mission and its starting point of coming together to make space for individuals without one. It was a glimpse inside the extensive and vital nature of building shelter. It brought the experience of working with Habitat for Humanity full circle, especially as families partnering with Habitat worked alongside them.
The amount of collaboration between Habitat affiliates was emphasized throughout the week, focusing on Habitat’s ability to come together for the sole purpose of helping people get homes. We look to each other to learn from one another in many ways, including trying different building techniques and streamlining office procedures. But we also lean on each other for physical support from time to time and that is just as much the purpose of Habitat as the many other ways we hold each other up and move forward together.
You can find more information on Build-A-Thon here.