The UW-Whitewater chapter of Habitat for Humanity is working to raise money for a new home in Whitewater. The fundraiser is called “Construction Hero for a Day” and is being held April 9-20 in the University Center.
Senior President of Whitewater Habitat for Humanity Dan Buehler said the chapter hopes to get a house up every year or every other year.
“We haven’t built a house in such a long time,” Buehler said. “Our chapter really wants to get something together with the Walworth County affiliate so we can build a house regularly.”
The Habitat for Humanity chapter plans to start construction on their new house within the year.
The UW-Whitewater chapter is affiliated with the Walworth County Habitat for Humanity, which helps the campus chapter with funding for housing projects and with event organization, fundraising and member sign-up.
The chapter got the idea for “Construction Hero for a Day” after they attended a youth leadership conference last October, Buehler said.
They included staff members of their specific universities, thus giving students incentives to donate because the “winning” staff member who got the most donations in their jar would have to dress up as a superhero.
Their idea was called ‘Superhero for a Day,’ and the UW-Whitewater chapter did a spin off of the idea.
Ten of the university’s staff members will be participating in an effort to bring awareness to the project. The donation jars in the UC will have a corresponding staff member’s picture, and by the end of the fundraiser, whoever has over $100 in their jar has to dress up as the ‘Construction Hero for a Day’ all day on either April 24 or 25.
The teachers and staff members are from majors and positions across the entire campus. From Chancellor Richard Telfer to biological sciences Professor Bruce Eshelman, teachers and staff are trying to get the campus and their specific students excited about the project.
“If we get the staff involved and excited, their students will hear about it,” Buehler said.
The UW-Whitewater chapter of Habitat for Humanity has been around since 1989, making it the oldest unofficial chapter in the nation.
The chapter previously built in Whitewater in 2006 on Willis Ray and Franklin Roads, which is next to lot they plan on building the house on this year.
The chapter is simultaneously working on a house in Elkhorn in addition to raising money for the next house in Whitewater.
The group plans to work on the Elkhorn house until the first semester of next year, and by then they hope the funds will be raised for the Whitewater house.
Fundraising co-coordinator Jeremy Collier said it’s rewarding work to know what you’re doing has a direct affect on somebody else’s life.
“In many situations, it’s beyond just giving them a house, or peace of mind, giving them the ability for their kids to grow up in a safe and secure environment,” Collier said. “That’s something you can’t really buy. The house means so much more than the shelter it provides.”
In addition, the homeowners have to put in what’s known to Habitat for Humanity as “sweat equity,” which means the family or individual helps the volunteers build the house. They share in the experience of making the home and constructing the place where a family can grow and prosper.
“You get valuable building skills and you build your interpersonal skills,” Collier said. “[Construction Hero for a Day] goes a lot better with the mission of Habitat for Humanity, which is to provide decent and affordable housing to those people that need it.”
The UW-Whitewater chapter has helped with homes in Rock and Jefferson counties in the past, but it’s been more than four years since they’ve broken ground in Whitewater.
Buehler and Collier are dedicated four-year Habitat volunteers, so the house will be their first in Whitewater. The feeling between both of them was excitement: excitement in helping the Whitewater community and giving back to the college area that’s given them so much.
UW-Whitewater Habitat for Humanity is looking for students to help in its efforts for the house in Whitewater because of the chance to see a recognizable teacher dress up like a construction worker for a day of classes.