CHAIRMEN OF THE BOARDS

Alaska council builds homes with Habitat for Humanity

Alaska council builds homes with Habitat for Humanity

For their recent project with Habitat for Humanity, Knights of St. Benedict’s Council 12290 in Anchorage, Alaska, adopted a clever fundraising idea: invite people to “Sponsor a 2x4” through small monetary donations.

The suggestion for the fundraiser – a variation on one used in Habitat projects nationwide – had come from John Lopetorne, one of the council’s founding members. It wasn’t so much a means of purchasing individual boards as a clever way to get individuals to sponsor the project.

“It was not a lot of work,” said Edward Cunningham, a council member as well as public relations chairman for the Alaska State Council. “We simply loaded up a truck with lumber from the project area. We asked for a $5 donation to ‘sponsor’ a 2x4, and $10 to ‘sponsor’ a 2x6 board. Many people would just hand over a $20 bill or write a check.”

Sponsors had the opportunity to write prayers and good wishes onto the boards with a marker. When the fundraising was done, the Knights delivered the boards back to the worksite along with a check for the funds raised. The pieces with the inscribed messages were installed in each of the houses as a gesture of support.

“The first time we did this fundraising, we received over $900,” Cunningham recalled. “This time we raised $2,322.”

The fundraising phase may not have been much work, but that would soon change with the construction phase. Various members of the council donned hardhats and wielded tools of the trade over a number of weekends, and other volunteer groups participated in the building process as well.

“Habitat has tradesmen for tasks such as plumbing and electrical,” Cunningham explained, “but our Knights have kept plenty busy with tasks such as framing and installing Sheetrock.”

During the last fraternal year, Council 12290 had 30 volunteers work a total of 1,024 hours on the project. The work continues and should be completed by the end of summer 2019.

As is Habitat for Humanity practice, the families who will reside in the new homes must provide a considerable number of “sweat equity” hours before taking ownership. The unit at Dave Wallace Commons that the Anchorage council helped construct is a duplex, and so two families will soon be enjoying their new four-bedroom homes.

Laura Gutierrez, fundraising manager for the Anchorage Habitat for Humanity, expressed her appreciation for all the local Knights do for the organization.

“Habitat for Humanity appreciates our steadfast partnership with the Knights of Columbus,” Gutierrez said. “Each year, the Knights mobilize volunteers to build, advocate and raise awareness about the need for shelter. Their support helps parents build on the stability of a Habitat home to enable their children to achieve greater strength and self-reliance.”

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