Build-A-Block in the homestretch of giving back

Five houses built, six to go.The Build-a-Block partnership between NC State and Habitat for Humanity of Wake County is hitting the halfway point by putting the finishing touches on five houses located off of Lake Wheeler Road in Raleigh. The project has raised 85 percent of their monetary goal of $715,000 putting them closer to moving 11 families into new homes. Co-chairs Mike Giancola and Sarah Paluskiewicz are taking a step back to evaluate the work they have done so far with Habitat for Humanity student members Neil Cornwell and Alexander Simpson.”Being on the verge of completing five houses is a way to take a pause, take a step back, and be like ‘we did that,'” Cornwell said. “Building 11 town homes and raising $715,000 is a lot, is big. We came this far. It’s motivation for the homestretch finishing the project and just seeing our goal that seemed so far in the beginning get so much smaller and so much closer to finishing it.”This project between NC State and Habitat for Humanity is the largest of its kind, according to Giancola. Paluskiewicz said the size of the project has caused people to take notice and contribute more.”With a smaller goal when we are pretty sure we can hit it, you get a bit of the bystander effect,” Paluskiewicz said. “By doing something that is 20 times what we normally do, it’s so outrageous that people who would never get involved are like ‘I need to do this so I don’t make these people look bad.'”With this increase of support, the work days have been upped to Wednesday through Saturday, and more than 1,000 students have come to the block to build.”The people on the build sites are probably the most genuine people I’ve come across in my life,” Cornwell said. “A lot of times they simply come out. They’ve seen the impact it has had on other communities, and say, ‘This is such a great idea. I want to be a part of that.’ It builds a community, honestly.”Simpson said this project and other Habitat for Humanity projects are a great way to see the impact of one’s time or money.”With Habitat, there is foundation one day — just a flat piece of concrete, and by the end of the day you see kind of the skeleton of the house,” Simpson said. “You say ‘Wow I built that.’ Another day you walk into the house. The frame is there, but you can see all the way through the house, and you put up the walls, and you say ‘Wow, this looks like a home.’ It’s really a tangible, visible product that comes out.”Cornwell said building and then giving a family the house is a great experience.”In one word, rewarding,” Cornwell said. “On one hand you go and learn useful skills — people show up to the build site, some with no experience and learn how to use a chop saw, a hammer and how to put a frame in. On the individual side, you learn so much about constructing a house.””When you see the family that is receiving the house — I can’t describe it honestly — it’s an overwhelming sense being able to help someone who deserve that and so much more. Families make it all worth it.”