It’s “World Habitat Day” and the 34 affiliates of “Habitat for Humanity” in Iowa are celebrating by asking Iowans to put some ink on some boards. Jenna Nathan of the Greater Des Moines Habitat for Humanity says Iowans are invited to contact their local “Habitat for Humanity” chapter and put their signature on a two-by-four or a two-by-six.
“We knew we wanted to do something large in support of World Habitat Day and we really wanted it to be a statewide effort, bringing everyone together, really letting everyone know what Habitat has achieved across the state,” Nathan says. “We will build 100 homes all over the state this year so we wanted to show how large the impact is, so we decided we really wanted to give everyone a chance to be involved.”
Their goal is to get 20,000 Iowans to sign the boards which are used in the roofs, walls and floors of homes. “And then we will take those boards and build a house at the capitol in April of next year,” Nathan says.
In April, “Habitat for Humanity” will stage a one-week-long effort to build a house on the street in front of the statehouse. “This will be the fifth consecutive year where we’ve built a house in front of the state capitol,” Nathan says.
Thousands of Iowans have volunteered to build the 100 “Habitat” houses under construction in Iowa this year. In the Des Moines area alone, 9000 volunteers have worked on the 22 homes which the Greater Des Moines Habitat for Humanity has on its construction list for 2009.
Nathan, who is 25 years old, started working on “Habitat” projects in the Champaign-Urbana, Illinois, area when she was a college student. “I worked with the University of Illinois’ campus chapter to build a few houses,” Nathan says, “and then, other than that, I was just kind of aware that they were around and I didn’t know it was such a global presence with 80 countries covered by Habitat for Humanity and, you know, thousands of affiliates here in the United States.”
She’s now the media coordinator for the Greater Des Moines Habitat for Humanity. “This is my first job right out of college. I really wanted to do something to give back as well as increase my job skills and it’s just been a great experience for me,” Nathan says. “I really think that housing is just such a basic human right that it’s important that everyone has a chance to purchase a safe, affordable home, so for me, it was an easy choice to work here at Habitat.”