Leslie McGraw and her five-year-old son Mark cut a ribbon at their new home in Ann Arbor yesterday as part of a dedication ceremony for the University Habitat for Humanity chapter”s second house.
“I feel confident that I can be a good homeowner,” McGraw said.
McGraw, a student at Eastern Michigan University, applied for a house from Habitat last August, and said that she has gained far more than a house in her “partnership” with the group.
Facing strict requirements from Habitat regarding personal credit, McGraw took budgeting and credit classes and paid off her debts. She said she acquired many new skills while working on her house as well as helping at other Habitat for Humanity sites.
“If I had just went into home ownership blind, I would not have been as comfortable or prepared,” McGraw said.
The University chapter was established in 1996 in association with the Huron Valley chapter. While there is no set number of members, more than 2,200 students have volunteered their time for the organization 200 this semester.
The chapter has been most successful in recruiting Rackham graduate students and members of the Greek community.
“I found that people are very receptive to Habitat and to the ideas that it promotes,” said LSA senior Aubra Levine, fundraising coordinator for the University chapter.
The chapter focuses much of its effort on raising money in order to build houses. For the McGraw”s house, $15,000 was raised in the last two years through various outlets. The Michigan Student Assembly”s Budget Priorities Committee allotted some funds to the chapter and a group of students in the School of Social Work raised more than $8,000 for the project.
In addition, the Habitat for Humanity chapter organized a 200-mile bike trip last year from Ann Arbor to Lake Michigan. The trip raised $2,000, and the group plans to repeat it this year.
Local business donated the rest of the funding for the construction of McGraw”s house. Fundraising events for next semester include a benefit concert with Cloud Nine on Jan. 28 at the Necto, and recruitment events to entice high school students in the area to get involved in either fundraising or construction.
“This is helping us achieve our goal of building one house a year,” said LSA senior Ashley Ley, University Habitat chapter president.
Habitat for Humanity is a world-renowned non-profit organization that builds homes for people who have financial trouble purchasing their own. The homeowners are expected to aid in the construction of their house, and then make reasonable monthly payments to the local Habitat for Humanity affiliate. This money is then used to build homes for other people in the area.