With the help of seven home-building companies and thousands of volunteers, Habitat for Humanity of Omaha broke ground on June 3 for its eighth annual Builders Blitz. In just 10 days, contracted construction crews and thousands of local volunteers worked together to remodel eight depleting homes in North Omaha.
Among those helping on the work site near 21st and Laird Streets were more than 50 Clarkson College students and faculty members from the PTA and Nursing programs. They volunteered June 8–10 and assumed duties like framing walls, installing hurricane clips, cleaning up trash and rubble, sorting recyclable materials, and removing weeds and tarnished grass from yards.
Chera Tremblay, Academic Coordinator of Clinical Education for the PTA program, explained how event such as the Builders Blitz prove that specific skills and experience are not necessary to make a difference. “We, as health care providers, have the compassion to help others, and we can do this in various ways,” she said. “The PTA faculty continues to encourage [our] students to serve the community in various aspects, [and] it is such a rewarding moment to see the surprise in their eyes when they realize what they can accomplish. Even if it is four volunteer hours, we as a team provided 43 sets of hands! Every little bit helps, and that is such a priceless message.”
The 10-day effort culminated with eight families (that met certain income criteria) becoming the homeowners of brand new Habitat houses, which average $125,000 in value and offer a 20–30 year, no-interest loan. The hope of this inspiring investment is to provide a home-owning opportunity for first-time buyers who otherwise wouldn’t qualify for a conventional loan, as well as to make neighborhoods safer and more aesthetically pleasing.
In the eight years Habitat for Humanity of Omaha has sponsored the Builders Blitz, volunteers have helped construct 42 homes. "For the residents who already live there, it's a boost to their equity and their investment as well, and it makes it a safer, more enjoyable place to live," Kathy Katt of Habitat for Humanity said.
This was the second year Clarkson College faculty and students volunteered with the Builders Blitz, and, despite the harrowing heat, they were happy to be there. “I just kept thinking about how amazing the Habitat for Humanity organization is,” said PTA student Terri Hulinsky. “I had briefly heard about it previously but it was just cool to be able to see it in person. I was baffled by how many volunteers got together to build houses and how fast the houses got built.”
Last year's Builders Blitz was held just two blocks directly west of this year’s location, and there are prospects of next year’s Blitz being in the same area. The work of the three years combined would total an investment of $8 million in the neighborhood near Kountze Park.
Check out photos from this year’s Habitat for Humanity of Omaha Builders Blitz on the Clarkson College Facebook page.