It was 8 a.m. on a cold, wintry morning. Students shuffled their feet as they piled into the cars.
But on this morning, student volunteers had a far better reason to be out in the cold rather than sleeping in.
Every Saturday morning, volunteers meet in front of the Wilkinson Student Center on the BYU campus and head to local communities to build houses. Students gain building experience and volunteer work from participating in this Y-Serve event.
The Y-Serve program Rural Housing Development (RHD) partners with Self-Help Homes, a government agency where families can save money by building their house in a rural area, according to the United States Department of Agriculture. RHD has been around for more than five years and continues to grow.
There are currently four houses being built in the Payson community by RHD, and the program is planning on adding more in the future.
The program continues year-round with project sites in Heber, Elk Ridge and Payson. One contractor is tasked with teaching the homeowners and student volunteers how to build the houses. There are 10 homes on each site, which all must be built before any homeowners move in.
RHD is part of the United States Departure of Agriculture housing program. This community service program sponsors the building of houses and community facilities in rural areas.
RHD’s most recent project in Payson is at the beginning stages, as the team just finished laying the foundations on the houses.
Colton Crowther, a student and one of the Y-Serve program directors, joined RHD his freshman year and was invited by Y-Serve to become a director.
“I’m from a small rural area in Colorado and I was looking for a way to serve. I’m interested in building homes and learning how to and that’s how I got excited about getting involved. After my freshman year they needed a director so I applied and got involved,” Crowther said.
Crowther said he has has learned how much effort it takes to build a home and has felt a sense of community togetherness through the project.
“This is a great opportunity for families that can’t get a home any other way,” Executive Director of Self-Help Homes Brad Bishop said. “I love helping families be able to live in better situations.”
The program offers loans and grants for a variety of community services such as child care centers, nursing homes, hospitals, police stations and fire stations. RHD also provides grants for government agencies, non-profit organizations and Native American tribes.
Carl Henderson, a BYU student who volunteers with RHD, said he enjoys working on the projects.
“I love doing service, it makes me feel better,” Henderson said. “I have grown up in tall skyscrapers my whole life, so I want to get a taste of what houses look like. It’s a great excuse to come build houses, and it’s great exercise.”
Other local residents join the Y-Serve students to volunteer with the service projects. Brian Beaumont, a Payson resident, shared why he loves to serve and explained that if he could, he would drop everything in his life to serve every day.
“Nothing makes me feel as good. In the big picture, it’s actually my retirement plan. So this is like a vacation because I still have bills, so I just come to play, get out and work,” Beaumont said. “As soon as I can figure out how to avoid bills this is what I’ll do full time.”
This service activity is held every Saturday, unless stated on the BYU Y-Serve calendar. Students and community members can get involved by signing up on the Google Doc or contacting the program directors by phone or by email at .