On Jan. 18, members of the Kenan Scholars program met up on a sunny afternoon to assist in building senior housing with Habitat for Humanity of Orange County. In support of affordable housing, scholars suited up in gloves and goggles to prep and install windows and shower stalls. They worked together to cut and lift each piece into place, all while giving back to the community.
Chris Karras (BA ’20) organized the Habitat for Humanity build day. He was inspired by the discussions had during the September 2018 Kenan Scholars’ Downtown Durham Roundtable. The event brought together local leaders to discuss revitalization and affordable housing in the Durham community.
At the event, leaders in business, government and academia shared insights on gentrification, urban renewal, economic development and poverty. Speakers concluded with what they hoped for Durham’s future and how to get there. This roundtable showed that cross-sector collaboration can lead to more public good, a cornerstone of the Kenan Scholars program’s mission.
“The Kenan Scholars program is laser-focused on creating tri-sector leaders,” Karras said. “And affordable housing is a policy issue that’s a wonderful example of the power found in cross-sector collaboration.”
Habitat for Humanity, a nonprofit organization, is an example of this concept at work. It brings together families, consumers through its ReStore re-sale shop, individual and corporate donors, local government leaders and volunteers to advocate and support for better, more affordable housing.
Habitat for Humanity builds and renovates homes while educating homebuyers on the buying process and how to maintain a property. By utilizing volunteers, the organization cut the costs of constructing homes, making homeownership an opportunity for all.
“Going out and learning what it takes to make affordable housing available from a non-profit standpoint built on our previous policy and public sector discussions,” Karras said. “These hands-on experiences help forward the [Kenan Scholars] program’s goal of building tri-sector leaders.”
Karras thanked those who helped to organize the volunteer day. “Overall, this awesome project came to fruition because of the amazing people at the Kenan Institute and the extremely helpful individuals at Habitat for Humanity Orange County, including Christine Abernathy, Volunteer Coordinator”.
To learn more about the Kenan Scholars program, visit kenaninstitute.unc.edu/scholars.
“The Kenan Scholars program is laser-focused on creating tri-sector leaders, and affordable housing is a policy issue that’s a wonderful example of the power found in cross-sector collaboration."