Students in the “Sustainability and Service on Long Island” Field Academy course spent their three weeks between terms giving back to their community, including working with Habitat for Humanity in Bellport, Long Island for six days to help construct a home for a family in need.
Through the experience, students were able to make a major impact in their own “backyard.” Habitat Suffolk builds throughout Suffolk County on land donated by the County and Townships. Through volunteer labor and donations, Habitat Suffolk produces simple, quality, affordable homes with the help of homeowner (partner) families. These houses are sold to partner families at no profit and financed with affordable loans.
The organization’s goal is to build an average of 12 houses annually, building for as long as needed to make sure every family in Suffolk County has a simple, decent and affordable place to call home. The group is so grateful to the Field Academy class whose efforts put them closer to that goal.
Arriving on site, the class met with Habitat Suffolk representatives for a few safety lessons and to learn how to use the tools. Then it was time to roll up their sleeves and get down to business. The house they worked on was a two-bedroom ranch, and students tackled such “heavy lifting” jobs as laying the floor, painting, and completing the home’s infrastructure. They also picked up their shovels and got to work in the yard to prep it for planting.
Linda Hanrahan, mathematics teacher at Ross Upper School and leader of the Field Academy course, was happy to contribute her time, along with that of the students, to help fill the dire need on Long Island for decent affordable housing so that younger and older families can live and work here. “Habitat for Humanity is making a difference one house at a time!” she said. “Service learning and giving back to the community are two big reasons why I believe Field Academy is such a wonderful opportunity for our students.”
Working together on such a meaningful project also helped forge new connections among the students, and the happy hum around the work site added to the sense of community. Students said they were happy to be part of something that will eventually change a family’s life for the better. One of the rewards for all their hard work is that they will get to meet the family who will be moving into the house, along with others involved in the build, when the keys are handed over to them in June.
Overall, Linda said the experience was rewarding for everyone, and they hope to have further Habitat for Humanity opportunities in the future for students to get involved and give back to the community.