A team of employees from a Fairborn hotel rolled up their sleeves last month to lend a hand in building a new home for a family of refugees from Rwanda.
The work was in partnership with Habitat for Humanity of greater Dayton and the team from the Holiday Inn worked for several days and erected the home’s exterior and interior walls, and put up siding and a roof.
Caitlin Garber, the business transient manager at the hotel, lead her team of six individuals, all of whom volunteered their time on the project.
“After doing a tour of the Habitat building and ReStore, I was hooked,” Garber said. “The program provides educational classes for their families on basic home maintenance, budgeting, parenting and nutrition and this ensures a successful future for them. And the families participate in building their own homes.”
Other team members who took part were Dianna Cordle, director of sales; Susan Jacobsen, sales manager; Kaitlyn Farmer, corporate catering manager; Kalyn Leeper, catering sales manager; Laura Rozen and Kim Peterson, both on the sales team. For most everyone on the team, the build was a first, since they had not taken part in construction of a home prior to this.
“I love crafting and building things,” Leeper said. “But this was the first time I had done anything like this. It was entirely new.”
Jacobsen said her husband was a contractor and had bought, renovated and sold a few houses, and through him she had heard stories about construction. But her experience otherwise was minimal.
The team all said they had some expectations going into the project. Most expected hard work, but were surprised at how much the project brought them together as a team.
“It was amazing with seven women,” Garber said. “We work together so well, it turns out, even out of the office!”
With power tools in hand, everyone who worked on the house learned new skills and found themselves becoming emotionally involved in the project.
“The experience was more worthwhile and touching than I thought it would be,” Jacobsen said. “To be able to lay actual walls in a home for a family in need was very special. I didn’t think I could imagine the family hanging out and making memories in the home, but I did.”
Learning and refining their teamwork skills was something that the group didn’t expect to happen during the project, which brought them all close together. Though the women had all been close prior to taking part in the build, they developed a greater respect for one another and learned more about strengths and weaknesses.
“It (the project) did require us to trust each other and rely on each other more,” Farmer said. “And I also developed a new found respect for construction crews and what they do!”
Habitat for Humanity of Greater Dayton works with people in need from all walks to life to develop communities by building, renovating and remodeling houses all across the local area. Qualifying families must contribute at least 275 hours of “sweat equity” to building their home.
Families also take 40 hours of homeowner education classes and then make a down-payment and purchase the home with an interest-free mortgage. The organization is funded through donations and income from items sold at the “ReStore,” a discount retail store that sells building materials and home improvement products to the public.
“It’s important to give back in any way you can,” Leeper said. “You should do for others what you would like done for you. The world needs more love.”
And in March of 2017, the family of refugees will join the Fairborn Holiday Inn employees as the four-bedroom, two-bath home in Fairborn is dedicated. During that dedication, the team from the Holiday Inn will present household appliances they have donated to the family.
“I think it is important to volunteer because it opens your eyes to what others are going through that you may not always see,” Farmer said. “It is very humbling and makes you appreciate your life and what you have.”
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