Article by Ilaria.
Volunteering with Habitat: How to get involved
Volunteering is a journey of mutual benefit and what better way to build wellbeing than through building homes?
In response to the overwhelming demand for housing security and development both in Australia and overseas, Habitat for Humanity has curated several programs suited to corporate and individual volunteers alike.
Volunteer in Australia
You need not travel far to find a cause. Whether you’re looking to volunteer individually or as part of an organization, Habitat has tuned in with the needs of the local community.
Brush with Kindness, a staple of our corporate volunteering program, integrates team building activities with renovations aimed at helping vulnerable and disadvantaged Australians update their living conditions. So far more than 10 000 volunteers have stepped through the program, impacting over 1 000 lives. By delivering a full day of activities for teams of 15 – 20 people, Brush with Kindness looks to support communities in need through home building, disaster recovery, repair and maintenance, landscaping and gardening, painting, and minor building projects.
Taking part in corporate volunteering with Habitat is a great way to increase staff awareness and promote corporate social responsibility.
“Volunteering with Habitat’s International Women’s Day build allowed me to appreciate how small improvements to a women’s crisis accommodation shelter, like a fresh coat of paint, can positively change the living environment and ambience of the place; beneficial when considering the distressing environments these women and children have faced and the emotional healing journey they are on as victims of abuse.” – Arup (e Boral team in QLD)
It takes a village, it truly does. Whether you’re volunteering as part of a corporate team or signing up of your own accord, the power of numbers is what eventually brings about results. That’s why Habitat for Humanity has set up the Local Village for those looking to participate individually and join a team of like minded people.
There’s several ways to lend a hand through programs offered domestically. The Local Village Build is Habitat’s way of helping bushfire-affected communities get back on their feet. In 2019, 2 000 homes were destroyed in fires spanning 10 million hectares of land. Human and animal lives were lost in a tragic display of nature’s power. The program gives volunteers the chance to show their support by working alongside affected families in the Southern Highlands and helping with clean up, home rebuilding, fencing, and debris collection.
It is estimated that 1.6 billion people live without adequate shelter. For those looking to put their physical fitness to the test, Hike for Humanity is a chance to truly walk the walk. An example is the Cradle Mountain adventure in Tasmania offering a 5-day trek through beautiful and challenging trails. It is an opportunity to raise funds for Habitat Australia’s local and Asia-Pacific housing projects. Additionally, Habitat has partnered with Ultra-Trail Australia (UTA), making it possible for participants to raise funds for a good cause while also taking part in the world’s 3rd largest trail running event.
For those that are more ambitious in their physical pursuits, we’ve introduced Bike, Raft & Hike for Habitat. The program is aimed at fundraising and increasing community awareness by taking you on a remarkable journey through the Tasman Sea and native bushland by the shores of Lake Brunner, all the way over the Southern Alps on a 30km hike and magnificent rafting experience down the Waimakariri River Gorge. This 6-day journey will have you building memories all while building capital to be invested back into struggling communities.
With the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic still acutely present, we’re aware not everyone can travel and take part in group-based volunteering activities. Our new campaign Home Deposit allows you to fundraise for a future building project. By registering for Home Deposit, you can start your fundraising journey from the comfort of your home by putting down a fundraising deposit that will be used to help families in need of safe and stable housing. The initiative also gives participants the opportunity to sign up and take part in an available build project once interstate travel is back up and running.
Habitat for Humanity Australia has a strong focus on helping developing communities and working towards reaching sustainable development goals. We offer the chance for community engagement overseas through our Global Village program. Participants will have the chance to team up and take part in week long initiatives aimed at home building and sanitation service development for poverty-stricken families. Habitat’s presence is felt across Cambodia, Vietnam, Nepal, Fiji, Indonesia, India, and depending on which country you visit, you may be involved in activities such as concrete mixing, bamboo weaving, bricklaying, painting, or digging trenches.
With small tasks like these, groups of volunteers have helped those in need achieve housing security and greater independence – life-defining events. Every year, over 450 such volunteers take the journey overseas to help families in need build safe and decent homes.
You can choose to volunteer as an individual in teams of 12 – 15 people, as part of an organisation in groups of 24 – 150 participants, or with your church group (all faith groups are welcome!).
Regardless of how you go about it, volunteering changes lives – your life, and the lives of those you’re helping.
“It was a life changing experience. I met the most incredible people, worked harder than I ever have before in the toughest conditions I’ve ever experienced and made an impact that changed a family’s life forever… I came away with a sense of the deepest gratitude for all that I have and the opportunities that life presents to me.” – Lucy, 18