WILMINGTON, N.C. — Habitat for Humanity is well-known for the affordable housing solutions they provide to people in need, but they’re testing out a new initiative that scales down their typical projects.
Their Playhouses for Habitat initiative builds and decorates playhouses for the many children in the community who need a space of their own to call “home.”
The first three playhouses built were a beta test for the program, and it started with students in Cape Fear Community College’s carpentry program, who designed and built the models that volunteers would follow for construction. The project was a fun way for members of the community to come together, each bringing their own skill-set to the table.
“When we built them originally the plans came to us kind of rough-ended,” Mark Wallace, a student at CFCC said. “We got to put it all together and figure it out along the way, and it was kind of painstaking actually to tear the whole thing down after the fact just to ship it off. But I know once they get them put up and put back together, they’re just gonna love them.”
He saw this project as the chance to serve his community now that he’s retired from the Army, and he said he loved the chance to use what he’s learning in school to help others.
“It’s definitely nice to not only finish a project and know that you got something out of it but when it’s going toward somebody and something else volunteers built, painted and decorated the houses in a single day — that means so much more, it definitely helps,” Wallace said.
Habitat for Humanity rallied volunteers in the community to spend a day building the playhouses, and it was a work from the heart from the very start. Renee Wells and her team of contractors took the opportunity to put their construction knowledge to good use.
“Having grown up in a wonderful home, it feels good to be able to give back to some people who maybe didn’t have the benefits that I had,” Wells said.
Their team decided to donate the playhouse to Safe Haven, an organization that helps victims of domestic violence. Her goal is that the kids can spend some time in the house and feel like these are four walls they’re safe in.
“That they can just forget things for a while and just be kids and play and just enjoy themselves and not have to worry about any of the adult issues, they can just be kids,” Wells said.
She said if the kids have half as much fun playing in the house as her team did putting it together, then it’s all worth it.
“It’s about giving back,” Wells said. “It’s about sharing our prosperity and our talents and our time and giving back. Helping others, giving others a hand up.”
Habitat for Humanity plans to continue the initiative in the future and wants to involve more organizations and teams who can choose whether to donate the house to an organization or an individual family who would benefit from it.