Volunteerism. It’s the simple principle of donating time and energy for the benefit of other people in the community as a social responsibility rather than for any financial reward. It’s amazing what a small gesture can do for your soul. Not only are you serving the community around you, but you are also giving back in a way that is heartfelt and meaningful, and that is something that is near and dear to many of our staffers.
Each year, our team is given the opportunity to volunteer with the Greater Indy Habitat for Humanity crew and work alongside our peers to help build a home for a family. While we can only be on site for a day, we are able to help tackle projects as a group and contribute to the organization’s overall goal of providing a home to a family in need of housing. In years past, we’ve done everything from fireproofing the roof, insulating the doorways and windows and even took on the enormous task to siding a new home. It’s safe to say we are not construction professionals by any means and should probably stick to our day jobs, but we are always eager to learn and good with picking up tasks quickly. There’s still a slight learning curve, but that comes with any new project. The ground rules for us have always been as long as you are willing to learn a new skill, they are happy to have your participation.
Most people are familiar with Habitat for Humanity and the work they do, but until DirectEmployers got involved, I only knew high-level details of what the organization actually stood for. For example, homes are not just given out at random. First, low-income families are required to apply for housing and meet the Habitat criteria. If they meet the requirements, they go through an entire 2-year program that equates to be 300 hours of sweat equity–which includes homeownership education, maintenance and construction involvement. Upon completion, the home is sold to the family via a long-term, no-interest mortgage entirely financed through the organization, which gives these families both affordable housing and a sense of pride as they are able to give back to the organization that graciously helped them when they were in need. Since beginning in Indianapolis area in 1985, the Greater Indy Habitat for Humanity chapter has served over 995 families locally and abroad, and 101 homeowners have been able to pay off their mortgages.
Not only is our involvement helpful to the Habitat crew leaders and future homeowners, but also for DirectEmployers because we get the opportunity to work together as a team outside of the office with individuals we may not regularly interact with. For me, it’s an opportunity to step outside of my personal routine and comfort zone, while being able to donate my time to an organization that is genuinely trying to uplift a community and provide better opportunities to those in need. If you ever have a chance to participate in a Habitat for Humanity project, I would highly recommend giving it a try! You may walk away with the ability to complete some of your own items on your to-do list at home.
Until next time!
Jaime Costilow is a Marketing Manager specializing in social media and communications for DirectEmployers Association.