Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, NC State’s Habitat for Humanity chapter will continue to host the annual Shack-a-Thon from April 12-16 in the Brickyard. Student organizations will build and stay in shacks during the week to raise money for Habitat for Humanity of Wake County, which provides affordable housing for low-income families.
The goal of the NC State chapter is to raise $20,000 this year to provide for the construction of two roofs for homes currently being built by Habitat Wake. Brian Dulaney, a fourth-year studying mechanical engineering and the president of the Habitat chapter at the University, said all the funds raised by Shack-a-Thon will go directly to Habitat Wake to put towards construction.
“What they use that money for is building affordable housing in Wake County,” Dulaney said. “The way that works is homeowners have an application process and have to provide financial information, proof of employment. When they’re accepted into the home ownership program, they have to take financial literacy classes as well as completing sweat equity hours working on the home. Once they actually move into a home, they have a very affordable mortgage through third-party lending that Habitat Wake does.”
During previous Shack-a-Thons, the number of shacks student organizations built ranged from 19 to 25, but due to the limited in-person nature of this semester, Shack-a-Thon has downsized. The chapter will be working closely with Habitat Wake to make sure safety precautions are in place during the event.
Though this year the event will feature fewer shacks than usual, Clare Jordan, the first president and founder of the NC State Habitat for Humanity chapter, said the first Shack-a-Thon in 1998 will still pale in comparison to this year’s.
“Our first year, we wanted to do something that would bring a lot of attention to the issue of affordable housing in Wake County,” Jordan said. “We decided with the help of the Wake County affiliates at Habitat Wake that we would build a garden shed for the homeowners who we were building a house in partnership with Habitat Wake at the time. That was our great idea. That we would build it in the Brickyard and then move it over there.”
Jordan admitted she was an English major and had minimal knowledge of construction.
“I had no idea how heavy duty that plywood was,” Jordan said. “It was like three of four inches thick. They had to deliver it in this humongous truck. The poor guys that I had recruited to help with construction were like, ‘Clare. What is this?’ We ended up doing it in the location that is now Talley Student Center. I mean God bless those guys who had to work on that thing. Then we had to get it out of there, and it was big. I’m sure those homeowners were like, ‘What are these NC State students doing?’ It was so funny. That’s how it really got started; it was pretty much a disaster of an event. But we got attention for it, and it developed into that concept [Shack-a-Thon] over time.”
Jordan said nonprofit work like Shack-a-Thon is important because of the positive effect it has on families’ lives.
“The most important outcome of the work that Habitat, or any nonprofit, does is the impact that it has on the people’s lives who we serve,” Jordan said. “You’re transforming a family’s life. You’re not just building them a house. You’re creating a home for people who wouldn’t otherwise have the ability for home ownership, and because of that, their kids can go to college. They develop a pride in home ownership that doesn’t just boost their house or their street, but really transforms neighborhoods.”
Dulaney said he thinks the work the NC State chapter does is important because it allows people who did not grow up in a fortunate living situation, like himself, to have the chance to.
“I grew up in a very stable home,” Dulaney said. “We had a nice house to live in and I think that everybody should be able to have the opportunity to do the same, to be able to have a safe, secure and affordable home to live in. I think that’s a really important part of growing up and building that stable foundation.”
Donations can be made on the Shack-a-Thon website, where donors can choose a sponsorship level that represents a material needed to build homes, or can choose a custom contribution.
Students can also contribute to Shack-a-Thon by participating in a Chipotle fundraising night April 11. From 4-8 p.m., if students eat at the Chipotle on Hillsborough Street and mention they are with Habitat for Humanity at NC State at checkout, a percentage of the proceeds will be donated to Shack-a-Thon.