Iowa’s local volunteers plan to build as many as five dozen homes for disadvantaged families this year. Sarabeth Andersen is C-E-O of Habitat for Humanity Iowa, and says the real work’s done by local chapters.It’s a grassroots movement, so she says you won’t see Habitat for Humanity coming in to set up a chapter for itself — it’s local people who’ve heard about the idea and begin to ask how they can do it. In Iowa, Andersen says there are 35 local affiliate chapters of Habitat, in all parts of the state, working with individual volunteers as well as groups and companies. Habitat is “all about partnerships,” she says, working with churches and civic groups as well as governments to get homes built as inexpensively as possible. Last year Habitat for Humanity built 54 homes in Iowa. This year she says the organization’s looking at 60 homes, at least, and the state office is making contacts that weren’t done up to now, working with corporations and government sources of aid instead of leaving it to “each little affiliate” to ask on their own. The adults who will live in Habitat homes also swing a hammer to help with the work. Andersen says they’ll put in anywhere between 200 and 600 hours of “sweat equity” working not only on the house their family will live in but often on other homes completed before their house will be built. You don’t have to be a part of any social organization, church or other group to volunteer work with the Habitat for Humanity program, and Andersen points out they can use help even from people with no carpentry skills, who can do things like provide childcare for volunteers, bring refreshments as a “site host,” do office work for a local chapter or write a check. For more see the state chapter’s website at