By Darwin Manning
While there was a strong focus on global social justice action on campus this week, there is also a lot to be done locally. This is what the Habitat for Humanity project this Saturday is aiming to prove. This will be the first project in Grinnell though this Iowa faction of HFH and they hope to expand to helping several other local towns. This Saturday, all are invited to partake in the work meeting on the periphery of Central Park a little before 10 a.m. and working until 2 p.m.
“The Grinnell project will be the first time that they have done this in Poweshiek,” said Doug Garrett, who works for HFH in Jasper county. “They hope to grow this in the four counties including Jasper, Tama and Marshall in years to come.”
The Chamber of Commerce decided to arrange for the day of work and to bring HFH’s presence back to Grinnell. After discussing with the branch that serves Poweshiek they decided they really wanted the work done. Thus, individuals like Emily Schmitt Counts at the Chamber have been working to publicize the event.
“They were interested in expanding and so we just worked with them in trying to get the publicity going,” said Counts. “We allowed them to use their expertize and we just wanted to compliment them.”
The work will mainly consist of basic yard work, tending to overgrown trees and conducting some external repairs. There are a few projects they would like to accomplish that they will wait on.
“There are couple that need handicap ramps, but there is a little more work involved in those and will take a longer commitment,” said Garrett.
They have collected thirty houses that have been nominated by their owners or friends to receive the assistance and they will try to get through as many of these as possible.
“We have thirty on the list, but we won’t get past twenty,” said Garrett. “Several groups at the College and some sports teams will be involved.”
Counts revealed that there seemed to be a real need for a day such as this, as there are many folks that cannot afford to do the work to improve their living situations. This will make the town more marketable and improve the quality of life for all citizens.
“We hope that Grinnell will be an ongoing long-term project and this is really a way to work on neighborhood revitalization,” said Garrett. “We need to take care of all the homes in our community.”
Habitat for Humanity has franchises across the United States completing their own projects.
“You don’t have to go to Appalachia or third world countries to find housing needs,” said Garrett. “You don’t have to go very far to find housing needs. I won’t pick on anybody, but no one deserves to live in those circumstances.”
The organization in Greater Des Moines has expanded and is now partnered with the team from Newton. Indeed, Iowa has experienced the growth that has taken place across the United States.
“HFH is a worldwide organization, but for the last two [or] three years, they have decided to branch out to people in the US that have built their own homes who need help, usually external repairs,” said Garrett.
The Chamber truly hopes that this continues to expand and they are already planning for another workday or two in the spring. They believe given how many nominations they received that there is a true need for this and they are poised to step up to the call.
“We’ve gotten plenty of nominations and there is clearly a need out there,” said Counts. “We hope to do this with more in-depth projects when the spring gets nicer.”