By Emily Hostetler
Volunteers from the Habitat for Humanity Chapters of Ohio Wesleyan and Delaware County volunteers are teaming up to build the county’s first homeless shelter just a few blocks from campus.
The new Family Promise House, located on 39 W. Washington Street, will be open to homeless families in the area and will provide shelter, food and support services to help families become independent again.
Sophomore Austin Daniels, OWU Habitat president, said the house is the largest ever built by the volunteers.
“(The shelter)’s going to better the community and provide stable support for struggling families,” he said.
Last Saturday, OWU Habitat members worked with Delaware County Habitat members to put siding on the Family Promise house.
Sophomore Jonathan Rodriguez, OWU Habitat treasurer, said he and the other volunteers wanted to make sure the job was done correctly so the siding wouldn’t break over time and end up hurting the people they are trying to help.
Rodriguez said he “felt great” when the group finished.
“We got a lot done and despite the fact that it was very cold and hard work, it was exciting to see that much progress in only four and a half hours,” he said.
The volunteers will continue their work on the Family Promise house this Saturday as their last build of the year.
According to the Family Promise website, 109 requests for shelter were turned down last year; and three to five families, including some Delaware County families, are denied shelter in Columbus every day.
“There is a lot of poverty in Delaware County and it is important that there are places like the homeless shelter and soup kitchens to help people who are in need,” Rodriguez said. “Students can help a lot by volunteering their time at to help build or staff places like these and Habitat does a really great job at giving students the opportunity to help out those in need.”
Daniels said Habitat had just been re-established last year after its disbanding in 2008-2009. Leadership is currently undergoing the “trials and tribulations” of trying to get a stronger base on campus.
“(Habitat) is a principled organization centered about the core idea of creating awareness and promoting equitable options for families,” he said. “A common misconception is that families get houses for free, but in reality, they have to pay for their houses, as well as pay in ‘sweat equity.’”
While volunteers aren’t at build sites, they also work at Delaware County’s Habitat ReStore at 305 Curtis St.
The store provides Delaware families with affordable repairs and renovation materials, according to its Facebook page. Daniels said the money Habitat brings in at the store funds operation costs and future building projects.