On an afternoon in November, I found myself traveling to a small neighborhood on Durham-Chapel Hill Road. As I pulled up the driveway with four classmates, I saw three houses under construction that had “Sold to Habitat of Humanity” signs out front. We got out of the car and were immediately called over by the project leader. The introduction was brief, and in no time, we were given gloves, pouches, hammers and nails. I rushed up a ladder and began helping the volunteer professional builders with the installation of the second floor for one of the houses.

The building project was supported in part by Duke’s Office of Durham and Regional Affairs, which supports the local community and service organizations like Habitat for Humanity of Durham. Habitat is a non-profit that helps to build and repair homes for those less fortunate so that they may have a safe and affordable place to call home. The MMS Net Impact Club called for volunteers to help with local Habitat projects. As Vice President of the club, despite not having any experience in building houses, I signed up with an open mind along with a few classmates. I saw it as a perfect opportunity to connect with the Durham community and to give back to the needy. The Club hopes to build on this new partnership with Habitat and to continue to support the organization in the future.

My classmates and I spent a day on the Habitat construction site. Of course, not everyone was balancing on a half-built second floor framing like I was. For those who didn’t fare well with heights, there were a variety of other roles that people took on—like sawing wooden pieces for the framing or painting. There was something for everyone to do. Despite the hard work, I thoroughly enjoyed the afternoon. I got to know several other Duke students who were there, and most of all, I got to give back to my new home of Durham!