Habitat For Humanity's Shanty Town

Collin Schopp

As the cold of fall began to set in this week, student groups had an opportunity to spend some time outside in the weather, giving their time and money to a good cause.
On Friday, Augustana’s Habitat for Humanity group hosted the annual “Shanty Town” event, in which student groups gave donations to participate in the construction of cardboard homes on the lower quad.
Senior Laura Beitler, president of Habitat for Humanity at Augustana, explained more how the event works: “It’s an event where student groups or just a group of friends can come, and for a donation of thirty dollars, we give them cardboard and duct tape and they get to build a shanty, or a cardboard house– something like a homeless person may have to live in for a night.”
“It’s basically to raise awareness,” Beitler said, “of the homelessness problem, specifically for us in the Quad Cities. It’s a good visual representation so people can see what some people have to deal with and [how] some people are stuck living.”
Beitler added that there will be a few fun events as well, this year in the form of a food truck and live music. The full $30 donations and the profits from the Streets of Italy food truck will all be going directly towards Habitat for Humanity.
Beitler serves as an overseer of the group’s exective board, as well as being a general guide and resource. “I’ve been with Habitat for a while,” Beitler said, “so I’m trying to help them know what to do and where to go so we can continue making it a successful organization.”
This is a Laura’s third year working with Habitat for Humanity, which according to their website is an “organization that works mainly nationwide, but national as well, and fight[s] for adequate, safe, and affordable housing for families in need.”
Much of the work focuses on building homes through volunteer work, as well as revitalizing neighborhoods though home restorations and the institution of new programs for neighborhood children. The focus is on the Quad-City area that surrounds the campus, as the funds raised by the Augustana group goes directly to the Quad-Cities chapter of Habitat for Humanity.
After three years working with the group, Laura reflected some on why her involvement in the organization has been so worthwhile.
“At first it just started as, ‘this will be cool. I’ve never built a home before, I’ll try it out.’ And then I really got involved with it because it is enjoyable work and when you go to the builds, a lot of times the families that are going to receive the homes are there and you get to hear their stories, you get to see your work affect someone in real time, and you do see the work actually grow. I’ve seen home completed and given to the families, every single time I get to see the difference being made,” Beitler said.
According to the Habitat for Humanity website, over 6.8 million people have had their living conditions improved by the group. But the homelessness problem is still a far larger one, with more than 100 million in the world homeless. There are already a group of students involved here on campus: a small part of this international fight against homelessness. But as Laura shares, they’re always looking for more volunteers.
Habitat for Humanity at Augustana will also be holding a Bunny Hop 5k in the spring, along with smaller fundraisers throughout the year.