Habitat for Humanity Revamped

The addition of a second house and a tutoring program for neighborhood children defines the sixth Hockaday and St. Mark’s Habitat for Humanity build.

BUSY BEES Students take a break for lunch each day at noon to enjoy Jason’s Deli sandwiches. Photo by Hailey

Cody was hooked. The seven-year-old South Dallas boy, surrounded by Hockaday

Seniors Ely and Helen work on siding atop the home on Bicker’s Street. Photo by Hailey

freshmen, learned the rules of chess.

After defeating his mentors multiple times during a build day in early January, Cody packed up his new chess set and returned to his house.

Among the other residents of Homeland Street, Cody is one of the South Dallas children who Hockaday students will mentor throughout the winter. Working in an unused trailer in South Dallas that belongs to the West Dallas Community Center, freshmen and sophomores are inviting local kids to play games and do homework every Saturday through March 2. The project is going on in conjunction with the annual Hockaday/St. Mark’s-sponsored Habitat for Humanity build.

Because students must be 16 to participate in the build, younger students can now participate in the project by working with children in the area. Each Saturday during January and February, Hockaday and St. Mark’s families travel to South Dallas to help revitalize the community surrounding Homeland street.

When Cody arrived home, his mother caught site of the chess board and told him that she had always wanted to learn how to play the game.

“I’ll teach you tonight!” Cody said and the pair retreated back into their home.

Head of Community Service Laura Day said that the idea of mentoring neighborhood children came to her in two ways.

“The freshmen and sophomores are a little disconnected from the project because they can’t go [to the builds],” Day said. “We thought it would be a good win-win for the freshmen and sophomores [to get to be a part of the project].”

Day said that on the bus, the neighborhood kids will have multiple opportunities to play games and win prizes.

“We’ll play a lot of bingo, so they can win a lot of stuff,” Day said.

Aside from fun and games, Day said the bus will be used as a place to complete homework assignments.

“On the flyer [to reach out to the neighborhood kids], we [told] the kids to bring their homework just in case their families are not able to help them.”

To spread the word about this new opportunity in the community, Day and the West Dallas Community Center passed out around 150 flyers around the community to draw kids to the trailer. She added that the new program was established cost-free.

“The West Dallas Community Center has this trailer that they have been wanting to use,” Day said. “The hope is that they will be able to pull the trailer up every Saturday morning so the kids will have a place to go.”

Day hopes to be able to give the kids a tour of the Habitat homes to help them to “understand what it means to be part of a community.”

But this program would not be the only addition to the Habitat project this year. The build doubled in scope with the addition of a second Hockaday/St. Mark’s-sponsored house build.

Two families, instead of one like previous years, will partner with Habitat and Hockaday/St. Mark’s to build a home.

“Our community is, luckily, very generous so we were able to pull together double the funds so we are able to build two houses,” Habitat for Humanity project co-head senior Emily said.

David Michel, father of sophomore Elizabeth and St. Mark’s John Michel ‘10, brought the Habitat for Humanity project to Hockaday and St. Mark’s over five years ago. He said that Hockaday and St. Mark’s families donated $150,000 this year, double the sum required last year, to build the two houses.

“I want Hockaday students who have helped transform Homeland Street by building one of our homes to return in 10 years with their own children,” Michel said, “and tell them how they were a part of something very big and very special.”