Building a community

Dec. 7, 2011, 1:02 a.m.
Building a community
(SERENITY NGUYEN/The Stanford Daily)

The race begins. Children, grandparents, athletes and even entire families run; but the goal is not just the finish line, it is eliminating poverty housing and homelessness. The event is Stanford Habitat for Humanity’s Home Run 5K/10K, a major fundraising event that has taken place annually for 16 years.


Stanford Habitat for Humanity is a campus chapter of the international nonprofit organization. The organization’s goals are “to eliminate poverty housing and homelessness from the world” and “to make decent shelter a matter of conscience and action,” according to its website.


The central organization consists of country chapters, regional chapters and campus chapters. The Stanford chapter works with regional chapters Habitat for Humanity Silicon Valley and Habitat for Humanity Greater San Francisco, contributing through fundraising and volunteer work.


Stanford Habitat for Humanity co-president Keren Mikva ‘12 described the relationship with the regional chapters as a “mutual partnership,” where in return for fundraising help the Stanford chapter receives priority for participating in builds and subsequent support for fundraising events and activities. Apart from “builds,” the Stanford chapter organizes two main activities: Home Run and Family Fun Day.


This year, Home Run raised about $14,000, according to Mikva, who called the event a “huge undertaking.”


Managing the team


Stanford Habitat for Humanity’s executive board consists of six members who have worked on the event for six to seven months with support from several community partners, regional chapters and an advisor from Stanford Student Activities and Leadership.


“It’s hard…everybody [is a] full-time student as well,” Mikva said. “But our team really pulled together this year.”


“It would’ve been nice to have more people help out and do preparation,” added Pauline Santos ‘12, Stanford Habitat’s financial officer. “We’re looking to expand our team.”


Aside from the difficulties of working with a small team, the chapter faced financial challenges.


“We lost one of our major sponsors this year because of the economy,” Mikva said. “That was kind of a blow, but we actually have a bigger donation this year.”


The other major Stanford Habitat event, Family Fun Day, takes place in May. The Stanford chapter and the families it has worked with go out for a fun day together. Previous trips have been to the San Francisco Zoo and the Exploratorium.


“This year we actually hope to bring [families] to Stanford and have a field day here because a lot of them have kids,” Mikva said. “We’ve been to their homes, so we want to bring them to our home at Stanford.”


“It’s satisfying to see the people you serve, and how well they’re doing,” Santos added. “You’ll see the motivation to continue what you’re doing.”


The Stanford chapter also coordinates some activities with the UC-Berkeley Habitat chapter.


“The day before the Big Game we each brought a group out…and had a fake competition,” Mikva said. “We’re going to do another big build before the Cal basketball game in March.”


The group also plans to initiative more new events.


“We’re…thinking about trying to develop another event that’s more advocacy oriented, with our partner at Silicon Valley,” Mikva said. “It’s still in the works.”


“[We would] try to spread awareness about housing issues around Stanford. A lot of people know about homelessness, but poverty housing is another huge issue that Habitat focuses on,” she added.


Despite, or perhaps because of, the hard work involved in building houses or organizing large events, the members of the chapter enjoy their labor.


“When we take students out on builds it’s not just us…you get to meet a lot of different people from all over — it’s a lot of fun,” Mikva said.

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