Posted Saturday, April 13, 2019 9:36 pm
By COLBY DENTON
Habitat for Humanity of Cleveland makes a significant impact on "The City with Spirit," but what many don’t realize is that there is also a younger segment of Habitat workers at Walker Valley High School just waiting to get started on the job site.
Overseen by Walker Valley social studies teacher Josh Justice, the organization was formed in 2017 in an effort to bring students into the fold of community service.
“I wanted to give the students at Walker Valley the opportunity to serve our community and see the need for affordable housing,” Justice said. “There is a housing need in our community, and I wanted to provide students with an evenue to get engaged in a service that seeks to assist those who are in need. This club also allows students to see and meet those wonderful families who will receive a Habitat home.”
Students work at the Habitat ReStore on the second Saturday of each month, and not only work in the retail portion, but perform whatever work is needed that day. Approximately five work these days, but more have volunteered for large projects such as home dedications, where they help serve food.
“These kids do a lot of advocating around the community,” stated Habitat volunteer services manager LaManda Bowers. “They’ll also set up booths at Walker Valley to tell other students about what they do.”
The female students and teachers are going to be helping with Habitat’s Women’s Build project this year after securing a sponsorship of $500.
Bowers describes the teamwork these youth are displaying as amazing, and says they’re actually setting a standard for volunteering for even adults to live up to.
She explained how a campus chapter is a group of students who are passionate about helping people build better lives for themselves, and are ready to take the next step to lad the charge at their school to help fulfill Habitat’s mission.
A Habitat campus chapter is student-led and student initiated, and strives to fulfill four functions including: direct service, fundraising, advocating and educating.
“These kids are coming out and saying, ‘Hey, we want to make a difference. We want to help with affordable housing,’ and it’s very inspiring to see,” Bowers said.
Justice agreed, and said, “The students have blown me away with their enthusiasm, hard work and dedication to Habitat. Each one who has volunteered has done so with the big picture of helping others and being an advocate for affordable housing. They are selflessly donating their time and effort to assist those in need.”
Since starting in 2017, the students have served at various events and job sites, and Bowers attributes the Walker Valley group’s success to their faculty advisor, Josh Justice.
“Josh had a passion for affordable housing, and he came to us and told us how he’d heard about the campus chapter with Habitat International, and told us he wanted to offer his students the same opportunities,” Bowers added.
The youngest age that can volunteer at the ReStore is 14, so members of a campus chapter must be at least that old to serve.
Bowers, who oversees the volunteer department of Habitat, helps student chapters find volunteer opportunities and serves as a point of contact for the chapters.
She added how she feels the Walker Valley chapter has “set the bar” for volunteer organizations and clubs around Cleveland. She would like for other schools to step out and follow Walker Valley’s lead, as there are many ways to make a difference.
The Walker Valley Habitat campus chapter meets once per month. If interested in joining the organization or starting your own, contact Justice at Walker Valley. You will fill out an application for membership through Habitat International. For more information, contact Bowers at firstname.lastname@example.org.