UVSC Partners with Habitat for Humanity


    By Adam Denison

    The sound of nails being pounded into wood mingled with the laughter in the UVSC student center yesterday.

    It wasn?t construction workers making the noise, but UVSC students, faculty and staff participating in a Building Olympics to kickoff a campaign to raise funds for a school-sponsored Habitat for Humanity house. The house will be located in Provo and will be completed in 2007.

    The Building Olympics marked the beginning of the ?Inch by Inch? campaign designed to help raise the $65,000 needed to build the home. Students, faculty and staff have the opportunity to purchase one square inch of the home for 50 cents.

    ?They can sponsor as many square inches as they want,? said Alexis Palmer, coordinator for the UVSC Center for Service and Learning.

    The names of those who purchase square inches of the home will be placed on LEGO bricks that will be used to construct a miniature version of the UVSC Habitat house.

    Events at the Building Olympics included LEGO building contests and nail driving. Winners were awarded prizes such as a tool set, drill or hammer. However, no one walked away from the event empty-handed. All who participated in the event were given a chocolate hammer.

    UVSC began making plans to work with Habitat of Humanity in June of 2005 after Habitat approached them with the idea.

    In Utah County Habitat for Humanity relies heavily on students from both BYU and UVSC, said Kena Jo Mathews, executive director for the Utah County branch of Habitat for Humanity.

    Mathews said students mostly help with the construction of the homes, but some are assigned to work as family mentors who help the families through the home-buying process.

    Mathews said there are three criteria Habitat uses to select which families qualify to own a Habitat home: need, ability to pay and willingness to partner. Habitat for Humanity works with families who make between 25 and 50 percent of the area?s median income, she said.

    ?We build simple, decent homes, and we try to keep the costs down,? she said.

    The homes are sold to families who do not qualify for normal home loans at cost only, Mathews said. The families are given a zero percent interest rate on the loan.

    Depending on the family, those who qualify for a Habitat home are also required to put in 300-350 hours of ?foot equity? into the home, Mathews said. Foot equity means the families actually participate in the building of their home or another Habitat build.

    Mathews said Habitat for Humanity of Utah County is excited to work with UVSC.

    ?This is a great public/private partnership,? she said.

    The Habitat project will help UVSC students apply skills they learn in the classroom in real-life situations, Palmer said.

    Although it is sponsored by UVSC, their students, faculty and staff aren?t the only ones invited to participate in the project. Palmer said BYU students are also welcome to participate.

    Habitat for Humanity is a non-denominational Christian organization that was created in 1976. According to the Habitat for Humanity International Web site, Habitat has built more than 175,000 houses worldwide since its inception.

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