By Steve Sanderson
Members of UNO’s Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity showed UNO’s true colors Saturday as they helped build the roof of one of the near two dozen houses Habitat for Humanity builds each year.
What they were lacking in experience they made up for in heart and dedication. The men worked the morning of Saturday, April 6, for four hours, hammering away on a house that not only gives a family shelter, but a sense of love and community.
Christopher Shelton, external vice president of Lambda Chi Alpha, and seven of his fraternity brothers started the day at 8:35 a.m. and never looked back. Shelton said his fraternity is aiming at dedicating one day per semester to Habitat for Humanity.
Lambda Chi Alpha, a fraternity without much experience in roofing, proved that a kind heart and the will to help fellow citizens could overcome the barriers they faced.
As Shelton said, “We learn as we go.”
Habitat for Humanity International has built and rehabilitated more than 100,000 homes for people in need since it was founded in 1976.
Tami Dodge, supervisor for the project at 5630 S. 32nd St., has great aspirations for the projects in Omaha and elsewhere around the world.
Dodge has been a part of Americore for two years and has recently been assigned supervisor for Habitat for Humanity houses around the Omaha area.
“Once you can get a family into a good home, they can stop worrying about little things and more on their family,” Dodge said.
Habitat for Humanity has many volunteers, who range from young scholars to retired churchgoers. Along with the diverse group of volunteers from Omaha, the organization receives volunteers from the east coast via Americore.
Akil Geddie arrived in Omaha from New Jersey in February 2002.
Geddie was involved in the East Coast’s Interim program, which has allowed him to work in New York City, as well as here in Omaha.
“I wanted to do Habitat somewhere, but I didn’t really care where,” Geddie said. “In Habitat, I have just fell in love with the work I am doing, the people I meet and the area I’m working in is just awesome.”
Gabe Margolis traveled from Boston to participate in what he believes to be selfless service to his country.
Margolis has been a volunteer since January. Saturday’s project was his last for now — he is heading back to Boston for school.
To receive a house from the project, a needy family must partake in what the program calls sweat equity. The families that benefit from Habitat’s services must provide 350 hours of work on either their home or someone else’s home.
Renea Smith, who was accepted into the program two years ago, was working diligently on the front porch of Saturday’s new home.
“In this program, you learn to build and take care of a house in order to own your own,” she said.
As a mother of one, Smith is grateful for the help thousands of good Samaritans contribute each year.
Habitat for Humanity is always moving forward into new projects, helping new people every day.
Dodge said representatives of the university will be building a new house for a lucky family in the near future.
She also emphasized the need for volunteers and the fulfillment that helping out one’s community can deliver.
If you have any questions about Habitat for Humanity or if you would like to volunteer, call Jeanne Fischett at 457-5657.