by Ellery Lea

In March, I spent a week in South Carolina working on a Habitat for Humanity site over spring break. I traveled with eleven other William & Mary students to the Charleston area where we helped refurbish a home and worked in the ReStore. Some of the work we did on site included cleaning the home’s exterior, priming, painting, removing shingles on the roof, and landscaping. Doing manual labor was really rewarding because I could get immediate results and see the progress I was making. For example, when I was painting a side of the house, it was satisfying to see the unpainted area slowly shrink away with each stroke of the brush.

We spent one day of the week working in the Habitat ReStore instead of on site, and I had the opportunity to learn of other ways Habitat helps others. In the ReStore, we sorted, priced, and displayed donations to be sold. We also helped a local artist who had partnered with the ReStore to make recycled art to sell at an upcoming fundraiser for Habitat. With jobs like fundraising and organizing, you don’t get to see the same kind of direct impact like you would by working on site. However, these tasks are just as necessary because they’re what bring in income to help keep Habitat going.

Over the course of the week, I learned about how important a home is for a person’s sense of worth. If people live in homes that are deteriorating and forgotten, they won’t feel as confident in themselves or what they have to offer to the community. Habitat works to remedy this problem by providing them with resources and support to improve their situations. By working on site and in the ReStore, I gained a fuller understanding of Habitat’s mission and the many ways this organization works to help individuals and foster a stronger overall community.