While academics are important, students say service projects like annual Habitat build are crucial part of their IU experience

Post courtesy of IU newsroom intern Amanda Marino:

Ever since she saw pictures of her friend participating in a Habitat for Humanity build, Indiana University junior Shradda Madhav has been interested in joining the program.

She got her chance last week, joining the seventh annual build by the IU Kelley School of Business, Habitat for Humanity of Monroe County and Whirlpool Corp.

“I cannot believe volunteers made this,” the IU Kelley School student said as she looked at the new house for the first time. “This is beautiful.”

Madhav was one of about 350 undergraduate and graduate students who took part in the 10-day build near the Virgil T. DeVault Alumni Center on 17th Street.

Shradda Madhav

Shradda Madhav

Jeff and Carly Wyatt and their two grandchildren accepted their new house keys on the football field at Memorial Stadium, before IU’s game against Michigan State. The house was moved to McDoel Gardens, just southwest of campus and within walking distance of downtown Bloomington.

Surrounded by hammers, nails and paint, Madhav admits she’s “terrible at building anything.” But with a little heart, and help from the group, Madhav was able to do her part in making a local family’s dreams come true.

“I could see the difference I was making,” she said.

Although new to Habitat for Humanity, Madhav is not new to giving back. She has worked with nonprofit organizations in the United States and India. Whether it is helping with a literacy program or the Middle Way House, Madhav finds a way to be involved, despite a busy college schedule.

While academics are important and there are plenty of opportunities to excel at Kelley, she said being a part of service projects like Habitat expands her overall IU experience.

“What is the point of getting a job if you cannot make an impact?” she said.

Madhav isn’t the only one who sees the benefits of a life filled with service.

Senior Caroline Wallace has been working on Habitat for Humanity builds for the past four years. In fact, they’ve become an annual tradition for the Kelley senior.

Caroline Wallace

Caroline Wallace

This year, she feared she would miss the build after a foot injury. Although her injury kept her from her favorite part of the build – roof work – she was still able to contribute through painting.

“I really like that aspect of service, getting your hands dirty and feeling sore the next day,” she said.

Wallace said there is a certain community atmosphere inspired by that kind of physical work, especially on a Habitat build.

“When you’re literally sweating next to someone and learning how to use a hammer, it’s hard not to become friends,” she said.

In high school, Wallace said she was “the service girl,” going on multiple service trips to Kentucky and organizing some trips herself.

“I’ve done stuff like this for nine, 10 years,” she said. “This is what I do.”

It feels good to see so many students and IU community members involved in an event like a Habitat build, she said. There is so much to be found at a construction site, she said, that allows students to do more than just work on their degrees, letting their values, attitudes and gratitude shine through.

Wallace said values like empathy and humility are undervalued in society. On a build site, though, they are highly valuable qualities. Everybody comes out with a positive attitude ready to learn and work, no matter what their level of experience is.

“There is a correct way to swing a hammer, and I learned that on this build,” she said. “I still get really excited about it.”

Wallace said whether a person wants to work with Habitat for Humanity or any other nonprofit organization, there is always a way to share time and talents.

“There is time in your life to give back,” she said. “You just have to find it.”

The video below provides you with a full recap of this year’s build.


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