Habitat holds dedication ceremony
By Nicole Newman
Published on Tuesday, March 10, 2009
Community members filled the pews of a Lebanon, N.H. church on Sunday to celebrate the completion of the newest home built by Dartmouth's chapter of Habitat for Humanity.
The property, located at 364 Meridan Rd. in Lebanon, is adjacent to another home built by the organization.
An open house followed the ceremony, which included a tour of the one-story building as an informal way for volunteers to view the completed product, Devin O'Connor '09, co-chair of the Dartmouth chapter of Habitat for Humanity, said.
Dartmouth Habitat held a ground-breaking ceremony at the building site in May 2008, and construction began that June.
Before construction commenced, the organization's Family Selection Committee picked the family who would reside in the house.
The committee, which determines the selection criteria and conducts family interviews, includes Dartmouth students, O'Connor said.
The selected family, which is composed of a parent and child, seemed to be ideal Habitat homeowners, O'Connor said.
O'Connor declined to disclose the names of the family members, citing concern for their privacy.
"They were extremely grateful and extremely excited" O'Connor said.
Fundraising for the project took a full year, O'Connor said, followed by another year of construction. The cycle repeats every two years, according to the Habitat for Humanity web site.
Although it is not "as visible as the volunteer hours spent building," the year of fundraising is equally important, O'Connor said. Traditionally, Dartmouth Habitat aims to raise $100,000 for each house.
"It is a big challenge to raise $100,000," O'Connor said.
Students usually spend every Saturday and Wednesday building until the house is completed, according to the web site.
"Affordable housing is a huge issue in the Upper Valley," O'Connor said.
Because finding affordable housing can be a burden for the families that Habitat selects, Dartmouth Habitat does not charge interest on the value of the home, O'Connor said.
The family is required to pay back only the final value of the construction of the house, O'Connor said.
The Dartmouth chapter of Habitat for Humanity is "one of the top five campus chapter[s] of Habitat for Humanity in America" O'Connor said in an e-mail.
In 2008, the organization received a $3,000 chapter award from the State Farm Insurance Agency.
Dartmouth Habitat will use the award for its 2009-2010 building project, O'Connor said.
The organization plans to build an environmentally friendly house that uses zero net energy, according to studio art professor Karolina Kawiaka, whose Sustainable Design class is helping to draft plans for the residence.
By incorporating renewable energy sources and super-insulating the property, Dartmouth Habitat hopes to reduce the homeowner's future heating and electricity costs, she said in an e-mail. Dartmouth Habitat members are planning to use more sustainable building materials, she added.
"We hope it is a model for all housing and not just 'affordable' housing," Kawiaka said.