Habitat for Humanity raises the roof in Louisville


photo courtesy of Rob Sizemore

The Habitat group worked at a local build site for the last work day.

Leah Ulatowski, Editor-in-Chief

Robert Sizemore, chaplain and assistant professor of religion, and nine students made the annual Habitat for Humanity trip to volunteer and help build homes in Louisville, Ky. According to Amanda Bagnall-Newman, sophomore graphic arts major, one of the future homeowners shed tears of joy while hammering the first nail into his new home.

“He was homeless and has several daughters,” Bagnall-Newman said. “It was an emotional moment for everyone.”

The group was in Louisville from March 8–13. The students on the trip included Bagnall-Newman, Janel Weir, Siera Ramirez, Aaron Barth, Darcie Wieck, Kyle Green, Kayla Michalowske, Bomi Kwon and Amanda Smith.

On the group’s first day, the local Habitat chapter did not have a work day for volunteers, so it was decided that they would help at the local Salvation Army. The students mostly sorted clothing. According to Bagnall-Newman, there were veterans and many homeless individuals at the location.

“I was a little bit emotional when one of the veterans walked by because I knew that I was helping this person,” Bagnall-Newman said. “It just hit me.”

In the next few days, the group worked at various building sites to help construct houses. One day, some students went to help put up a ceiling and a porch and others poured cement. They also put up drywall.

The group stayed at a refugee center. The water heater at the facility was broken, so the students had to shower at the gym across the street.

“Everyone was safe and the week was drama free,” Sizemore said. “They even kept a positive attitude about the fact that our building didn’t have hot water for the week, so anyone who wanted a warm shower had to go across the street to an old gymnasium.”

Bagnall-Newman said, “Most of the people who we were building houses for never had warm showers, so we had nothing to complain about.”

On their downtime, the group members could tour the Louisville area and were staying only a few blocks away from a major shopping district. They even toured the Louisville Slugger Museum and Factory.

“I had a great week with the students,” Sizemore said. “I’ve done disaster relief trips before with mixed ages but never a Habitat build and never with all students. I was a little nervous about how everyone would get along, but I had no need to worry. The week went great, they worked hard at every project and our downtime was fun.

“I am always energized to see people who have dedicated their time and lives to serving others in need. It helps reaffirm and ignite my own vocation and compassion for people.”