Editor's note: The Vail Daily is running a series of articles on nonprofits that are participating in Colorado Gives Day, Dec. 4.
Habitat for Humanity brings people together to build homes, communities and hope.
Habitat for Humanity does much more than build homes. It helps local families become homeowners. Homeownership roots families in the community and creates stability in so many ways. Families don't have to worry about moving every year; they know where their children will attend school and what their monthly payments will be, year after year. Habitat homes also are structurally sound and, here in Eagle County, are built to LEED-certified standards. This provides warmth in the winter and dryness when it rains, offering not only physical comfort but also emotional reassurance.
Habitat homeowners actively participate in the building process. Each adult family member contributes 250 hours of "sweat equity" to the construction of his or her home. This allows families to have a stake in the game and gives them confidence in their knowledge and skills of construction. It also contributes to a sense of accomplishment.
Once a family's basic need for housing is met, it can begin to focus on bigger things such as health, education and plans for a brighter future. Sixty percent of the school-age children of Habitat homeowners are on the honor roll, and all of the recent high school graduates have continued on to college. Several adult family members have gone back to school to achieve a higher level of education. There also have been improvements in health, including eliminated asthma attacks and lowered cholesterol. The research is clear: Decent housing positively impacts the health, education and future prospects of families. Additionally, homeowners take a more active role in the community than renters and are more likely to belong to a school or community organization.
Habitat for Humanity is definitely more than just a home builder. It also builds a strong sense of community, as it takes many volunteers, donors and partners to join together to execute these goals. Through its partnerships, Habitat for Humanity has been able to expand its impact in the community and increase its building capacity of LEED-certified homes in the valley. Through volunteerism, in-kind contributions and monetary investments, its partners help further its mission, which allows local families to realize their dream of homeownership.
"Thank you for being a part of our lives," Habitat homeowner John Castillo said. "It's kind of funny how an organization can do more than conduct daily business. It can also build relationships and connections with people. It is a benefit that sometimes goes unseen, but we thank you for being who you are."
Founded in 1995, Habitat for Humanity of Eagle and Lake Counties has built 35 homes to date, housing more than 110 children. Habitat is building six homes this year, a record for the affiliate, in Gypsum. To donate or volunteer, visit www.habitatvailvalley.org.