Raleigh, NC,
14:20 PM

Building a Block, Building a Community

Habitat for Humanity and NC State build record-breaking 11 homes

  • Habitat for Humanity and State Farm are celebrating the ten year anniversary of their partnership.
  • Habitat for Humanity, State Farm and NC State teamed up to build a record-breaking 11 home neighborhood in Raleigh, NC.

Habitat for Humanity builds houses....it’s what they do. But, in North Carolina, they build communities. Literally.

Students at NC State University are challenged to think beyond boundaries and do the extraordinary. So, it was no surprise Habitat for Humanity of Wake County and the NC State Campus Chapter became the one of largest partnerships between a Habitat Campus Chapter and a Habitat affiliate, raising the most funds ever.

“The vision of the project, called “Build A Block,” was to build 11 homes on land near the University,” explained Melanie Rankin of Habitat Wake. “We wanted to give the opportunity of homeownership to more families. We knew we needed a partner that could bring in new sponsorship and volunteer commitments.”

NC State Chancellor Randy Woodson and his wife Susan agreed to be honorary chairs of the Build A Block campaign, and the project was off. The financial goal was huge - $715,000.

Students led the charge

In September 2015, the students went to work. Past Habitat Campus Chapter President and NC grad student Sarah Paluskiewicz, along with Mike Giancola, Assistant Vice Provost Student Ombudsperson for NC State, led the university effort. Through special events and grants, the students raised more than $120,000 toward construction costs.

At the heart of the students’ work, however, was volunteering on the site.

Current Chapter President Parker Colbath, a junior majoring in chemical engineering, spent a whopping 226 hours helping build the 11 homes. From his first experience as a freshman, Parker fell in love with a sense of community he had not experienced until Habitat.

“It was incredible to see NC State students from diverse backgrounds and cultures working together. We have students from all over the globe, which was really cool as many of the (Build A Block) families are from around the world too,” Parker shared.

5,000 volunteers contributed more than 20,000 hours to help build the homes.

“To whom much is given, much is required,” said NC State Athletics Department Debbie Yow. When she heard about plans for NC State’s commitment to Build A Block, she knew it would be a great experience for the student athletes. All 23 athletic teams contributed in some form.

Business and alumni step up

NC State alumni also got involved. Smedes York (Class of 1963), a long-time supporter of Habitat Wake, helped secure financial support from individuals and local businesses.

“Quality of life starts with a good home, and to have these folks rooted in the community, have a nice home to live in, to be a contributing part of the community is very, very important,” York commented.

State Farm joined the Athletics Department and others to provide financial support and to volunteer on site, alongside students and the future homeowners.

“It’s rewarding to be with a company that provides grants for such great projects and then to have the opportunity to build with your colleagues – to see the results of our support,” said State Farm Agent Vincent Boone. “But, the best part is meeting the homeowners and hearing their stories.”

Building secure futures

Purchasing a safe, affordable home through Habitat is life-changing. The 11 Build A Block families are from five different countries, but they all share the sentiment of gratitude for the chance to own a home.

“Thank you for giving us a place we can call our forever home after moving from apartment to apartment for the past 15 years,” new homeowner Sanna Z. Ghulam said at the home dedication ceremony in May 2017.

Ghulam, a working, single mom, has three sons. “I can’t thank Habitat for Humanity enough for making this dream come true for us! It will be a great journey for me and my boys.”

Another homeowner, Raleigh native, Rasheeda Ray, commented the low-interest payments will allow her to save for her and her five year old daughter’s future.

“It definitely will help our quality of life and I am grateful to Habitat Wake for this opportunity,” Ray added. For this busy mom who holds down two jobs, it’s a great reward.

Want to find volunteer opportunities near you? Visit Neighborhood of Good and make a positive difference in your neighborhood.

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