Six inspired Habitat homeowners and volunteers share why they build

Hear directly from those who have been working so hard this week, and see how the kind of change that Habitat creates reaches far beyond the build site.

Really making a difference

Twenty-one-year-old Melody Wang is president of the Habitat campus chapter at Southern Methodist University, where she’s a junior majoring in political science and psychology. While attending an international high school, Wang went with a nonprofit housing organization to build houses in Cambodia. “I really enjoyed that experience, so when I got to SMU, I got involved with the campus chapter of Habitat.” SMU’s campus chapter works closely with Highland Park United Methodist Church, which is working on its 93rd house with Dallas Area Habitat. “On the very first house, we met the family that was going to be moving in,” Wang says. “At the end of the day, she shook my hand and had tears in her eyes. Even though we were just college students, we were really making a difference. It was a very touching moment for me. I decided I wanted to do more of that.”

No longer feeling like a victim

This week changed Jackie Wills’ life — and how she looks at life. “Being a homeowner gives you pride, and you no longer feel as much like a victim,” she says. “Getting a house just really changes my outlook on life.” Wills and her husband, Henry, will be moving from their apartment into a new Habitat home in Fort Worth, Texas, after the help of dozens of construction volunteers this week. “I couldn’t believe how hard they worked,” she says. “They were down on their knees, up on ladders, all over the place.”

The goodwill President Carter inspires

Beverly Dale is a retired molecular biologist who splits her time between Los Altos, California, and Austin, Texas. She is a solid supporter of Habitat for Humanity and “a huge fan of Jimmy Carter,” she says. “You look in his face, and you see all the goodwill he’s inspired all over the world. It’s so inspiring.” As the top individual fundraiser for this year’s Carter Work Project, Dale won a spot at this year’s build — and there was nowhere she’d rather be. “Working beside the new homeowners makes it much more personal,” Dale says, “because you think, ‘This is the person who’s going to lay their head on the bed at night.’”