Last week I coordinated a team to help build a home for a family in need in Dover, NJ. Each year on May 12th Keller Williams celebrates “Red Day” by giving back to the local communities where we work on a national basis. Each office is individually owned and operated and therefore decides what service project they want to do. It forces us to take time out of our hectic schedules to re-think the importance of doing something that has true meaning and I think it is a great company policy.
As the team leader, I worked with the folks at Habitat for Humanity in Morris County, NJ to arrange a “build.” They are extremely well organized and it was really quite easy to do. You can go to their website and register here. The idea is to volunteer your labor to help curtail the costs of building a home to make it more affordable. Habitat for Humanity (HFH) organizes the purchase (or sometimes donation) of the property, the actual build and the eventual sale. To qualify for consideration families must have a minimum of 2 years of employment, make a pre-determined amount of money, cannot have a history of any drug abuse and some other additional criteria. This is to ensure that when the house gets sold at an affordable price, the family can keep up with the mortgage payments (which are greatly reduced) and build equity. This is not a housing program for the unemployed.
For instance, the house we worked on will be going to a Veteran single mother with a daughter. She is still in the armed forces and can actually be re-deployed. This home will enable her daughter to get some stability, have a modest backyard and access to good quality schools.
I must say I had my doubts about the work we would be doing and the overall contribution we would be making and boy was I wrong. We did hard labor from 9:00 AM – 3:30 PM with a half an hour for lunch. We had a project manager from HFH who taught us our tasks and then we divided up to accomplish them. The biggest project was digging out the trenches and putting in the wood fittings for the foundation of the home. It happened to be over 80 degrees that day with a cloudless sky, so we worked up quite a sweat.
Help Build a Home – There were some funny moments
It was perhaps the most gratifying work I had done in many years for several reasons. If the foundation isn’t done right- the whole house will be off- and that’s a great metaphor for us to remember. The second is to be reminded how fortunate I am to have a home and on a professional level, help families buy and sell them.
Throughout the year, I contribute to Habitat for Humanity financially, dedicating a portion of the proceeds from each sale I make to their affiliated Realtor program “Give Back Homes.” I figure each time I help a family buy a home or sell a home that can afford it, it is also my social responsibility to help a deserving family who can’t.