St. Monica Catholic High School

Blog: Habitat for Humanity San Francisco 2017

Monday, 4/17
After a brief stop at Santa Clara University for lunch and a tour, we arrived at our camp in San Francisco.  The view is stunning-gorgeous views of coastlines and the Golden Gate Bridge!  After dinner, some of our students enjoyed a short hike while others built community through games in our meeting room. We are excited to start our work tomorrow beautifying The City!  Habitat for Humanity Greater San Francisco's (Habitat GSF) mission is to "provide local families with a springboard to secure, stable futures through affordable home ownership, financial literacy, and neighborhood revitalization". We are looking forward to doing our part to make that a reality through our different projects this week!  
Tuesday, 4/18
Today we were blessed to work with several proud residents of Northridge Cooperative Housing in San Francisco through Habitat's Neighborhood Revitalization Program. This beautiful group of homes provides low-income families with the opportunity to live in an area that would otherwise be financially inaccessible. Together, we rid the community garden of weeds and prepared the soil for planting a new crop of vegetables. The garden provides food and peace for the residents and is evidence of their continued commitment to be great stewards of our Earth. We were so inspired by their example!
After a hard day's work, we headed over to University of San Francisco to tour the beautiful St. Ignatius Church, including the chance to go up to the top of the bell tower and enjoy an amazing view of the city. Thanks for making it happen, Mr. Altamura! We walked around campus for a bit before heading down to Pier 39, Fisherman's Wharf, and Ghirardelli Square in search of chowder, crab, and chocolate! We concluded the night with a group reflection about the perspective we had gained from our work, our hopes for tomorrow's work, and our Habitat prayer from St. Teresa of Avila. A night of great food, great scenery, and great company! Tomorrow we wake up early to head off to a new worksite...
Wednesday, 4/19
Today, we began our work at Habitat GSF's first new construction in Marin County which is nearing its final stages of completion.  As with the homes connected to the community garden we worked in yesterday, this project represents the opportunity for hard working families to own a home in an area they would otherwise be priced out of. We have learned that one way Habitat reduces costs for the families is to use sustainable materials and construction practices-which result in lower monthly utility bills and also helps the environment! 
We were blessed to work alongside some of the new homeowners fulfilling their "sweat equity" hours that are part of the prerequisite, and the down payment, for owning a home through Habitat. Another prerequisite for ownership of one of these homes is a family income within 55-80% of the local median. Here are some stories of other families for whom home ownership has become a reality through Habitat GSF: 
We went home proud-and tired! Our work today including leveling the ground and preparing the soil for the planting of trees. As the pictures and video below indicate, this included a lot of work with sledgehammers, pick axes, shovels, rakes, wheelbarrows, and compost- MOUNDS of it! Tomorrow we go back to give as much as we can to the project before we return to the city on Friday for more community revitalization work. 
Thursday, 4/20
April is Volunteer Appreciation Month!  About 35 volunteers from the local community have generously given of their time since 2014 to convert an empty lot to the 10 Habitat homes we're working on. Today, Habitat GSF hosted a pizza lunch on the site to express their gratitude. Click on the link below to learn more about the Mt. Burdell Place project!
It was deeply moving to see a neighborhood rally around Habitat families that are getting ready to move in and their commitment to taking such an active role in making the new residents feel welcome. 
Our work today involved successfully completing the tasks we began yesterday.  Each home's yard and the families' common outdoor space are now ready for planting!  Our students continued to work hard and feel a great sense of pride in being able to see the fruits of their labor, knowing they've done important work in making these houses feel like home.  
After work, we satisfied our sushi cravings with a delicious Japanese meal in the quaint nearby town of Petaluma.  We left room for some ice cream made from scratch at a local creamery and took turns at board game favorites such as Connect Four, Tic Tac Toe, and Mancala. Back at the hotel, the evening's reflection focused on what we had learned about each other through our work together today.
Tomorrow we return to the city for more community revitalization work by way of beautifying a public park. 
Friday, 4/21
Catching a (very) quick glimpse of the Painted Ladies on the way, we wrapped up our trip today helping further beautify San Francisco's Palega Park.  Together with Habitat GSF, City of San Francisco Parks and Recreation, and employees from Intuit, we rid the park of weeds, removed trash, and restored the mulch supply to the planters.  During our orientation session today, we were informed that there are only 4 employees to maintain the landscaping for 17 city parks-many in underserved neighborhoods.  We were glad to be able to lighten their load and do our part to make the facilities look nice for those using it. The benefits of the space were evident- a playground full of small children, older adults playing ping pong, dogs being walked, and community members from all walks of life playing tennis or shooting hoops. Several of us would have joined in had it not been for work boots not being allowed on the gym floor!  We worked up an appetite and headed over to the Ferry Building for a quick lunch before starting our journey home.  Our reflection this evening focused on the victories and challenges of our week, how we have been changed by the experience, and how what we have shared together through Habitat will inform our future actions.  
Thanks for a great week, Mariners!  We are inspired by your generous hearts and the hard work of your hands!
Christ has no hands but ours...