A tradition since 2005, R-House is more than just a construction project, said Jesse Griffin, the College’s director of The Center for Civic Engagement who has coordinated the work each year since the project’s inception.
“R-House is a chance for students, faculty and Habitat staff to come together for a shared goal, one that is often life-changing for families who receive the homes,” Griffin said.
The recipient of this year’s R-House is Sirena Perry, an assistant teacher in the Roanoke City Public Schools system and the single mother of a 10-year-old daughter. The house – a two-story, 1,450-square-foot structure – will be moved to a permanent location in Southeast Roanoke. This year, the target area of Habitat for Humanity in the Roanoke Valley’s work is the Belmont-Fallon area of Southeast Roanoke.
“Habitat does make change in direct and indirect ways,” Griffin said. “Involving students in that change is an incredible teaching tool and also a way to create a community connection.”
Because of the foundation of community service that R-House provides, many Roanoke College alumni have pursued careers with Habitat for Humanity, Griffin said. Brian Clark ’01 has worked for Habitat for Humanity in the Roanoke Valley since 2006 and is the current construction director for R-House and other Habitat projects. Clark said R-House offers a unique opportunity for students to bond with peers from day one while also contributing to the community.
“R House is way outside of their comfort zone,” Clark said. “I hope these students gain confidence through the experience to try new things and maintain their tenacity when their studies are tough, or life in general gets challenging.”
Most importantly, R-House positively changes the future for families in need, and it is their hope that students remember the family they help, both Griffin and Clark said.
“In a general sense, I hope that students recognize that giving and participating in service to others can be fun and exciting,” said Clark. “For all, I hope they recognize that many of us may need help from others in our lives, or varying degrees. Paying it forward, while we are able, has positive impacts on individuals and the whole community. ”