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ONU habitat for humanity trip encourages community, hope, giving back

The Davidson, North Carolina crew (photo/Nicole Kepner).

Every year students here at Ohio Northern relinquish their spring break in order to help better the lives of others and strengthen communities. This spring break, 110 Ohio Northern students embarked on trips to: Davidson, North Carolina, Sumter, South Carolina, and Jackson, Mississippi.

Each group partnered with the local Habitat for Humanity affiliate with the purpose of spreading love and building “simple, decent, and affordable” housing. Changing the lives for those who couldn’t necessarily afford or provide themselves and their families with a decent space to live.

There are several standards and requirements that a potential Habitat homeowner must meet. Habitat for Humanity performs an extensive background check on potential homeowners, including character references, employer interviews, and audit of finances. Potential homeowners must volunteer 500 hours in an approximate amount of “sweat equity” into their own or other project homes, which acts as the initial down payment on the home.

Once construction on the home is finished, and all the sweat equity is completed in full, the homeowner purchases the home with 0% mortgage and monthly payments that do not exceed 30% of the household’s monthly income. Allowing a family the freedom to manage their finances more effectively, with the end goal being to provide a ‘hand up’ and not a free ‘hand out.’

Habitat relies on the efforts of volunteers from colleges, high schools, church groups and other volunteer based organizations.

Fifth year pharmacy student Nicole Kepner, who made her sixth total habitat trip and third to Davidson NC over this spring break, described what Habitat for Humanity means to her.

“To me, Habitat is changing lives… Not just the lives of the homeowners that are getting a fresh start on life. Our work in Habitat goes far beyond the homeowners. It's showing everyday people that it doesn't take money or fame to make a difference in this world. Sometimes all you need is a commitment to volunteer, hard work, and a leap of faith to start a change.”

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