Habitat for Humanity builds communities

Published on June 30, 2011 by

On a recent hot spring Saturday morning, the average teenager around the nation would stay home sleeping. Or perhaps chatting with friends on the computer.

But Olivia Holmes gets busy doing something else. She is part of the Weston High School Habitat for Humanity Chapter. Instead, she and other students travel to Bridgeport to build houses for low-income families.

On that particular Saturday, Olivia was joined by Christine Welch, Katie Disston, Caroline Quinn and other volunteers who were putting the last touches on a house at 156 Beach St. Other volunteers from Saint James Church in Stratford were installing the fence and completing ground works.

In an interview with the Fairfield County Independent, the seniors at Weston High said they want to give back to society. Together they made and sold bracelets. They collected $500, which they donated to the organization to chip in toward the cost of the house.

Eileen Bakos is manager of volunteer services at Habitat for Humanity of Coastal Fairfield County. She said the house was dedicated on June 4. It was house number 125 built by the Coastal Fairfield chapter. “Most of the houses are built on the East Side of Bridgeport. A few of them have been built in Stratford,” she said.

The family should be moving in next week, said Bakos. The house has a total of 1,300 square feet, 1.5 bathrooms and three bedrooms.

“We strive to build communities,” said Bakos. Habitat for Humanity provides the houses at zero percent interest over 30 years to qualifying low-income applicants.

A very important fact about the recipients of these homes is that they are required to put in 500 hours of sweat equity working on the house.

“That means they become part of the building process,” said Bakos. “This interaction is very important in building a strong community.”

The consensus is that when someone invests in a property, he or she looks after the best interest of the community in which the property is located. The combination of paying a mortgage and sweat equity creates a sense of investment not only in the actual property, but in the whole neighborhood.

Bakos said Habitat owners have contributed approximately $500,000 in property taxes to Bridgeport. Usually, the lots where the houses are constructed are acquired from the city through the Neighborhood Stabilization Program.

For more information or to make a donation to Habitat for Humanity of Coastal Fairfield County, call (203) 333-2642 or visit www.habitatcfc.org