Under new leadership, UMBC’s Habitat for Humanity club received a complete overhaul this semester. With prior years seeing low membership numbers and general lack of awareness of the campus organization, Habitat for Humanity has taken on a new life.
“The old Habitat for Humanity was small numbers and to my knowledge had an issue getting people and getting people out volunteering,” said president Megan Lynch, sophomore political science major.
“It was just a PR issue, like a membership issue about how to get people out and involved and interested in service while balancing all the other orgs and clubs they were in,” she continued.
Despite having previously been a large part of the UMBC community in 2010 with their own website and participation in New Orleans mission trips, the campus organization had seemingly reached its peak.
With small numbers, Lynch and fellow executive board members sat down in early May to strategize growing their club in the UMBC community.
“At this point there really wasn’t a strong Facebook group for [UMBC Habitat for Humanity],” said Lynch. “I’m very familiar with how Habitat outreaches through Facebook and it’s their main way of advertising and fundraising so I said our first order is to make a Facebook page.”
Gaining 118 likes within a few months, the organization was already exceeding the expectations of its facilitators. With their first build planned for Saturday, Oct. 22, the club has high hopes for the coming semesters.
One of the organization’s main goals for this semester is to get UMBC involvement to the status it once was on campus.
“My goals in Habitat for Humanity this year are to greatly increase the attendance of the club as well as improve our involvement with the community around us. To do this, we’re making a lot of changes from last year and are hoping to receive feedback on how we could continue to make out club even better,” said Anna Lilly, sophomore biology major and membership coordinator.
“We have so many amazing things planned ranging from work days to volunteering at restores to conducting fundraisers,” said Shraddha Wagh, a sophomore biology major and club treasurer.
“I think joining Habitat is a great way to get involved on campus and create a sense of community. The board has many collaborations with various other student organizations with the ultimate goal of bringing the UMBC community together and raising awareness about homelessness,” Wagh continued.
While still trying to rebuild their organization, Habitat has not lost sight of their main goal of raising awareness of homelessness and poverty through service projects.
“Quite a few orgs have asked to partner with us because they recognize that service is so important. We’re really trying to work with them, find events, create events that’ll really bring the issue of homelessness and poverty, particularly in Baltimore, to a front at UMBC,” said Lynch of their upcoming events.
By next semester, the organization hopes to have an ‘Act, Speak, Think’ event where students will have a week long sleep out to further the club’s goal of awareness raising.
However, their long term goals see the club building a UMBC house and while the details are not specific, it will be a house built by Habitat and sponsored by UMBC with UMBC involved every step of the way.
“When you think about it UMBC is 10 minutes from inner Baltimore city and that’s where our Habitat does a lot of work. There’s so many issues in Baltimore and one of the main ones would definitely be homelessness,” said Lynch.