COVID-19 has altered the manner in which people now interact and socialize. While learning to alter their ways, USD’s Habitat for Humanity has found new opportunities to embrace these changes.
USD’s Habitat for Humanity was formed in the early 90’s and partners with their parent chapter, Yankton’s Habitat for Humanity.
USD’s Habitat for Humanity chapter president, Phil Dohn, said that the chapter really focuses on inclusion while also introducing students to the community, as sometimes students can go through college without interacting outside of campus.
“A lot of times students put their blinders on and lose perspective of the community that they are living in,” Dohn said.
Habitat for Humanity’s Secretary, Madeline Nelson, also explained that students can get stuck in their own routines of studying and worrying about classes, but sometimes they need to take a step back and be reminded of the community they live in.
“It really just gives you that perspective and kind of grounds us as students to be more involved and actually care about where we live,” Nelson said.
They said this is important especially in Clay County as the Vermillion community is highly affected by the campus.
“As students we are a huge part of the infrastructure of the town,” Nelson said. “When we leave, those restaurants, they struggle without our business.”
USD’s Habitat for Humanity really focuses on the Vermillion community and especially Clay County as a whole.
“In Clay County, 25% of the population lives below Federal Poverty standards,” Dohn said, “as opposed to the nation where it’s 13%.”
Habitat for Humanity tries to find ways to aid in these living situations found in Clay County and has already received their first full house loan. This loan has helped give housing and, more importantly, a home to a single father and his son.
Habitat for Humanity doesn’t only focus on housing needs; however, they also focus on food disparities by volunteering for other community outreach events such as the Welcome Table and Tanager Take-out.
Many organizations and activities at USD have seen changes and have even been cancelled over the past year due to COVID-19, but Habitat for Humanity has not.
Dohn said that instead of inhibiting operations they took this situation and embraced it as a way to adapt to the ever-changing situation while still doing what they intend to do, help the community.
“What COVID has brought us is challenges but it has also brought us opportunities to evolve,” Dohn said.
Both Dohn and Nelson said they encourage students to join USD’s Habitat for Humanity as it can help students remember to be grateful for what they have.
“It’s definitely humbled me in many senses,” Dohn said, “We are so fortunate to come home to a nice warm house and our biggest concern is when is our next exam whereas others are hungry and don’t know where their next meal is coming from.”
Students, and others interested in getting involved to help the community can attend meetings held every last Monday of the month at 8 p.m. in Beacom 133.