Habitat Volunteering: The Life You Change May Be Your Own


Elisa Peregrina, Staff Writer

Habitat for Humanity is a non-profit housing organization that assists people in repairing and improving their homes in local communities around the world.

Volunteering is the core of their success. As it is a non-profit organization, it requires a lot of outside help promoted through events, seminars, local habitat stores, travel, and more.

“I started volunteering for Habitat in high school with a connection I had through one of my teachers. It was probably one of the best things I could have gotten involved with as it’s shaped my goals for a career,” 20-year-old business administration major, Kyle Funeles said.

Funeles started with volunteering at local community build events in Somerset County as a freshman at North Plainfield High School. These build events consist of renovating or building people’s homes by working alongside Habitat homeowners. From there he went on to helping at their newly founded ReStores, where they sell donated goods for a fraction of retail prices. Now, he travels abroad to help build up towns in need.

Rebecca Rodriquez, a 21-year-old sophomore studying humanities said, “I heard about Habitat for Humanity at an annual 5k Rainbow run hosted by Raritan Valley Habitat. I was in the park during the event and wanted to know more, so I asked around and talked to one of their directors. I knew it was something I had to get involved in.”

Getting involved in bringing people together and providing better opportunities for families is extremely rewarding. Being that this is a Christian based organization, Rodriquez is able to combine the two things she loves to do – fulfill Gods mission and help those in need.

“Luckily, there is a small office in my town in Long Branch off of Joline Avenue for Habitat for Humanity where I have been able to touch base with for volunteer opportunities,” Rodriguez said.

Both Funeles and Rodriquez did not initially choose the majors they are pursuing today. Funeles was interested in business but shifted his path into the administrative side in order to take part in non-profits—as Rodriguez’s original plans revolved around psychology.

Habitat for Humanity lives by its mission statement, where they work toward their vision by building strength, stability, and self-reliance in partnership with families in need of decent and affordable housing.

Funeles said, “Hearing about people’s hardships is one thing, but witnessing firsthand is a different kind of experience. I never knew the happiness of putting a smile on someone’s face.”

Growing up people are told from a young age to get involved in volunteering – whether it be for high school, a transcript, or for the good of it. These two students found a passion for helping those in need and have found a home within Habitat for Humanity’s community.