Lillian Bushway ’24

Habitat for Humanity, Cedar Rapids, IA

This summer I worked with Habitat for Humanity in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. I was a part of the Mobile Response Team, a group of four people whom the state can move anywhere in response to disasters. Although I did not get called anywhere during my service, I did repair work on houses that had been damaged from previous disasters and learned some new construction like how to build the framing of an entire house, starting with the floor over the basement and ending with the trusses for the roof!

Traveling through the trusses.

I also learned more about how Habitat for Humanity functions. Habitat for Humanity chooses to build houses of certain value to make them affordable to Partner Families. The house is not simply given to the family; the Partner Family must complete a certain number of sweat equity hours and pay a mortgage on the house. The wonderful thing about the sweat equity (working on their own house) requirement is that it fosters a pride in the family for their property.

I got to be present at two house openings where the Partner Family was officially given the key and allowed to move into their house. At each, the new homeowners spoke about what the house meant to them, and what I loved most was how transparent and raw they were about their experiences. I also got to see the direct impact of the work the other AmeriCorps members and I had on these families. I valued having an active job that wasn’t the same every day. At a nonprofit like Habitat for Humanity, there are specialized jobs, but there is so much to be beyond construction and I liked the flexibility in our days.

Although I don’t think construction is an immediate career path for me, I can envision myself learning construction through volunteering a few times a week and eventually becoming a crew leader. My crew leaders were made up of people who wanted a way to spend their days helping others. Most had been engineers prior to retirement and all had the best sense of humor and great work ethic. Their sense of community and kindness is definitely something I want to find in other work environments.

Thank you to the ’68 Center for Career Exploration and my Class of ’72 sponsors! Because of your support I was able to provide my strength and hands to Habitat for the summer and develop a greater understanding of what I want my career to look like in any of the fields I am considering.