Sussex County Habitat for Humanity

Sussex County Habitat for Humanity will be the primary organizing agency for this 911 Service and Remembrance event.  We will be working with the State of Delaware AmeriCorps and RSVP organizations to invite volunteers from across the state.  The location, Sussex County Delaware, is midway between New York City and Washington, D.C. and typical of small town America.

The availability of affordable housing is scarce in Sussex County and there are over 4,000 families now living in sub-standard housing.  Sussex County Habitat for Humanity partners with families, volunteers and communities to build and renovate safe, decent, affordable homes with women, men, and children in need.  Families who qualify pay a no-interest mortgage over a long term.  Since the monthly payment is much lower than many rental properties, various types of families are eligible and the diversity of Habitat homeowners is in keeping with the diversity of our country.  The cost of building homes is reasonable due to the volunteer labor force that is utilized.

Our event will take place on Saturday, September 10, from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm.  There will be two 4-hour shifts of 20 volunteers each, building a house at 108 Tranquility Lane, Georgetown.  The walls have already been built by many volunteers during a day-long "framing frenzy" on April 4, 2011.  (Those volunteers won't be counted for this event, but notified of the special nature of the house's significance.)  The walls have been in storage since then and will be part of the new house being built.  The project will require other volunteers to help by providing lunches, snacks, drinks, and hospitality for the workers on site.  Volunteers will be utilized in the promoting of the project and in the registration process as well as orientation and check-in on construction day.  An estimate of total volunteers is 60 people involved primarily from Sussex County, but also from across the state of Delaware.

The goal is not to complete the house during this challenge but to experience working together for a common good and dedicating the project to the National Day of Service and Remembrance.  During the lunch hour (from 12:00 to 1:00) there will be a time of reflecting and sharing among the volunteers regarding their understanding of how volunteering can honor others.  Volunteers will be asked how unity and compassion can build lives as well as buildings.  (These thoughts would be part of the waiver form completed prior to the day of service so they would be prepared for the discussion.)

The completed house will be dedicated as the 911 House of Service and Remembrance and publicized in the community as such.  An American flag will be presented to the home buyers to display on their front porch.

The event will be publicized through the Sussex County Habitat web site, Facebook, twitter, and constant contact newsletter.  An e-mail blast will go to all our current volunteers, (over 2,000 on the database), and letters to our donor mailing list.  The state-wide AmeriCorps program and the state-wide RSVP program will use their contact lists to publicize as well.  We will use newspaper press releases and radio public service announcements also to promote the challenge.  The publicity will not only serve to help recruit volunteers, but to raise awareness of the 10th anniversary of 911.

We will attempt to invite 911 survivors or family members from the New York City or Washington, D.C. area to come participate on the build.  We will use the video "The Spirit of Volunteerism: 9/11 and Beyond" to present to area high schools, civic groups, and churches as we are invited to do so.  Habitat for Humanity homeowners and partner families will be notified of this special volunteer opportunity and urged to participate.  Local and State government employees will be notified of the event through their human resource departments and invited to respond by working on site or sharing other volunteer experiences on Facebook, etc.

Local television coverage is likely with the scope of this event.  We have spoken to an independent film-maker who may document this anniversary remembrance that shows the Best of American Spirit in a small, rural county situated between Washington, D.C. and New York City.

From past experience we know that volunteers who work on a Habitat house leave the site with a sense of accomplishment, a spirit of teamwork, and a feeling of giving to others.  Those are the values we celebrate and hold dear.

The volunteer sign-up period will be first-come, first-served with a deadline of August 31 or until the limit is reached.  Participants will be tracked through our normal volunteer software:  "Volunteer Up".  From the time of promotion through the workday of September 10, all volunteers will be registered and signed up on the computer and reports will be printed for verification purposes.  All volunteers on the work site must be at least 16 years of age, and will be encouraged to come with a parent or guardian if under the age of 18.  Waiver forms are sent to volunteers as they register along with the expectations of the day.  Safety on the work site is of major importance and is highly stressed.  There will be specially printed waiver forms to include the discussion questions and special aspects of this day of service.  These forms must be signed and brought to the work site on September 10 in order to participate.

Our goal is to include volunteers on that day who will understand that their service is "changing the world" by helping others and who will share that spirit of triumph with all those they connect with on September 11, 2011 as our nation remembers the 10th anniversary of a nation-changing event.