Habitat strives to help local community

By Danielle Alio
March 3, 2011

The Habitat club at Cabrini assists Habitat for Humanity in their effort to provide housing for low-income families. The organization offers affordable housing with no interest or mortgages.

There are over a half a million people in the United States who are experiencing some type of homelessness, according to the National Alliance to End Homelessness.According to the same source, over five million people are experiencing financial problems due to housing costs and rising mortgage rates.

The Habitat for Humanity of Montgomery County has been dedicated for the past 21 years to building quality affordable homes for low-income families with no interest mortgages.

To date, HFHMC has housed 181 people by completing 49 homes in areas all over Montgomery County including Norristown, Pottstown and Upper Dublin.

“When you feed a family the chances of you having to feed them again the next month are pretty high,” Billy Dunn, executive director of HFHMC, said. “When you provide a safe and affordable home, studies tell us that you kind of closed the loop on the need that they have for social services moving them forward.  They certainly may need some but not as many otherwise.”

Dunn spoke about his experience growing up in substandard (welfare) housing and how that helped him to form a passion to help people. He wanted to be able to combine his experience and passion together to make a difference in the community.

According to Dunn, anyone can make a difference by volunteering at HFHMC, especially college students. Cabrini College’s Habitat for Humanity club has been revived this past semester by a group of seven students who are passionate and willing to help the local community in some small way.

“I’m very into volunteering and helping the community,” Jess Merone, co-president of the Habitat club and sophomore psychology and social work major, said.

“I’m very into social justice and making a difference. I like seeing that I can help somebody.”

The club attended their first build day of the semester in February where they were able to work on a house in Pottstown.

“It was a great bonding experience for our club, to come together and help our local community, one nail at a time,” Dana Berardi, co-president of the Habitat club and sophomore history, political science and American studies major, said.

When a Habitat home is being built for a family, the family has to participate in the building process a minimum of 250 hours. The volunteers get the opportunity to build along side the family they are helping and hear each of their stories.Dunn spoke about how one encounter with a family made a permanent impact on his life.

“I was walking with a single mom up a set of steps and we were showing her the house she was going to be moving in to. Her five year old grabbed my hand and when we got to the top of the steps, she turned and looked at my nametag and said ‘Mr. Billy, every kid deserves a good home,’” Dunn said.“It blew me away because she wasn’t asking for her own room. She didn’t ask for a big backyard or a flat screen TV. She wasn’t asking for the latest video game system. All she wanted was a good place to live and when she said that, I knew in my heart that this is where I wanted to serve.”

There are more ways to volunteer with Habitat than just attending build days. The Habitat club hopes to volunteer at the Habitat ReStore in West Norriton. The Habitat ReStore is a place that uses all proceeds to benefit builds by reselling donated home appliances and building materials to the public.

“I like how we all work together and we can agree on everything,” Amanda Robotti, vice president of the Habitat club and junior education major, said.

“The build day was very fun and it was a good experience. Just hearing stories about the people and everything really motivated me to work because we are helping someone who can’t afford it.”

To get involved with the Habitat club on campus contact Merone or Berardi at danabqt81291@gmail.com and jessica.merone@cabrini.edu. To get involved with HFHMC contact Linley Kirkwood, community outreach coordinator, at linley@habitatmontco.org.



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Danielle Alio

Danielle Alio
Cabrini College '12
The Loquitur Manging Editor
LOQation Executive Producer
WYBF FM - On Air DJ/Assistant Production Director
Cabrini College Theater-Stage Crew/Actress

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