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Article Archive >> Community

Building Homes! Rebuilding Lives! Echoes of an Earlier Tradition!

Building Homes! Rebuilding Lives!
Echoes of an Earlier Tradition!

Since the first recording of man's activities, there has been a recognized responsibility for the welfare of others. A people, a family or an individual with no concern for his neighbor is hopeless.
In earlier American rural life, communities raised barns because many hands were required. In sparsely settled regions or on the edge of the frontier, it was not possible to hire carpenters to build a barn.
Barn raisings became a social event. Often, members of rural communities shared family ties going back generations. They traded with each other, buying and selling land, labor, seed, cattle, and the like. They worshipped together. They celebrated together, because cities were too far away to visit with any frequency on horseback. Despite traditions of independence, self-sufficiency, and refusal to incur debt to one another, community barn raisings were a part of one's life.
By the close of the 19th century, barn raising, as a method of providing construction labor, was disappearing. By that time, most frontier communities already had barns and those that did not were constructing them using hired labor. However, Mennonite and Amish communities carried on the tradition, and continue to do so to this day.
Group construction, by volunteers, enjoyed something of a resurgence during the 1970s, when houses, sheds, and barn-shaped structures were constructed for all manner of purposes. Echoes of the tradition can still be found today in some community building projects, such as those carried out by Habitat for Humanity.
Habitat volunteers recognize their responsibility for the welfare of others. They are concerned for their neighbors. Many of you reading this may also share that concern. You may care about people and be eager to help when you can. You can do so by volunteering with your local Habitat for Humanity.
Habitat for Humanity of Washington County is in need of caring people as volunteers. Volunteerism is the heart of Habitat! Volunteerism is the willingness of caring people to work on behalf of others without the expectation of pay or any other tangible gift. Without volunteers Habitat could not exist!
Anthropologist Margaret Mead once said, "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; it's the only thing that ever has."
That's the reason Habitat needs YOU to give a helping hand! And, not necessarily with a hammer. Most people think of swinging a hammer when they think about volunteering for Habitat. And, while some volunteers will wield a hammer or saw lumber, others are needed to serve on committees, assist in office work and help on special projects. Habitat has a constant need for volunteers to help with many tasks.
Habitat volunteers contribute more than muscle. Creativity, strategy, and technical skills are among the many invaluable traits volunteers bring to the organization. With a minimal staff, Habitat depends upon volunteers of all types. Everyone reading this has some special skill to offer. Time commitments vary; some volunteers can only spend a few hours a month working on projects. You can choose to volunteer as little or as often as you would like. Remember all volunteer hours you commit are a tremendous help that directly or indirectly result in construction of simple, decent, affordable homes for families in need.
If you are not currently involved with Habitat's volunteer program, think about it, then call the Habitat office, 301-791-9009. Remember a volunteer is a person who believes that people can make a difference, and is willing to prove it! It's people like the early "barn raisers" It's people like you!

William L. Bulla is a freelance writer residing in Washington County.

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