Over the years, Habitat for Humanity has become a familiar concept. A family in need applies for a home repair, renovation or brand-new construction. If they are accepted, they will stand shoulder-to-shoulder with volunteers working on their own home. They’ll then take classes to learn how to manage money, how to pay their mortgage and how to do basic home upkeep. Best of all, they then pay it forward by volunteering on construction projects for future Habitat families.
The program has long had a face in former President Jimmy Carter. In his post-White House days, Mr. Carter made Habitat for Humanity his cause, volunteering on projects and becoming a global ambassador for the charity and its mission. But with the president now 94 years of age, Habitat is looking to new generations for both leadership and volunteers.
That’s very apparent at Tucker High School, where one of the school’s popular clubs is its Habitat for Humanity campus chapter. Dozens of students have signed up to be a part of projects in Tucker, around DeKalb County and across the state of Georgia.
“I have people that recommended it to me,” says Tucker High senior Kate Kubik, who signed up for Habitat as a freshman. “I just got involved. I enjoyed it [and] I’m having fun.”
Kubik and a group of classmates spent a Saturday this fall making repairs at a home on Montreal Road. It wasn’t the “laying foundation and putting up drywall” that you might expect for a Habitat project, but most Habitat projects are not. Many of the jobs are simple home repairs, like this one, which saw the students join with Habitat contractors to apply a fresh coat of paint on the interior of the home and replace some doors and windows.
“The last time I came, we were making a sidewalk [working with] wood and concrete,” Tucker student Khalid Adebayo described as he handled a paint roller. “I just think it’s nice to help people. One day, you’re going to need somebody to help you, too.”
One of the mentors shepherding these youngsters into the Habitat program is Kay Stewart, the mother of a Tucker High graduate who actually helped start up the Tucker High campus chapter more than a decade ago. Stewart dons the same tye-dye Habitat t-shirt as her young charges and stands with them, paintbrush in hand, pushing the project along.
“Somehow, they have realized, seen and chosen how incredibly rewarding it is to serve one another,” Stewart says. “That to me is so inspiring. We are essentially building homes, communities and hope, but also building servant leaders.”
Stewart says the Tucker High campus chapter isn’t short on volunteers, but they do covet community partners to help underwrite their many activities. For the kids, they’re just enjoying the fruits of their labor.
“It’s very rewarding,” Kubik explains. “Not only do you get to see…the physical results of your work, you also get to meet a lot of cool people.”
The Tucker High campus chapter is instilling a sense of selflessness in the school’s students, a trait that could benefit the Tucker community for years to come. And it’s creating that next generation who promise to take the torch from President Carter and keep Habitat for Humanity going well into the 21st century.