How do you make a visible difference in your community? How about by volunteering to do some manual labor? On May 28, the staff of the Kirkwood Bookstore and EagleTech spent a day in the sun working with Habitat for Humanity. This was the second year that the stores reached out to their staff and students, and got them involved in restoring flood-damaged homes.
The crew assembled at around 8 a.m. and worked steadily until 3:30 or 4 p.m., scraping off the old paint, sanding and priming the house for repainting later. Although last year’s efforts saw a higher turnout, with around 25 people to this year’s 20, Bookstore Supervisor Kevin Ault was satisfied with the result. “Both years, the coordinators have been really pleased with our turnout. Often organizations or stores will have a lot of people sign up, but then only a fraction show up. We’ve been really consistent.” Because of scheduling constraints, this year’s event occurred after school had ended, which was certainly a factor in the decreased numbers.
Mary Beth Hanna, the bookstore supervisor for the Iowa City campus, organizes the yearly event with the cooperation of Ault and Nathan Wolter, the manager for EagleTech. Ault feels that helping an organization like Habitat for Humanity is a great way to encourage team-building with his staff and make a positive change for their community. “When you can actually see the impact that you’re making, it’s really rewarding. Seeing visible results from your efforts, and meeting the homeowner and witnessing how grateful they are is just really nice.”
To increase the volunteer turnout for events like this, Ault and his staff participate in National Student Day, organizing a volunteer fair. “It’s our chance to encourage students to do their part. When you make it easy for them to sign up, show them the results and tell them exactly who they can contact, they’re more likely to get involved.”
In addition to volunteering next year, Ault intends to eventually have his team choose a smaller house in need of repair, so that they can see the project through from start to finish.
The stores will continue to work with Habitat for Humanity in the future. Next year, they may plan an additional fall date as well as in the spring.