Veterans Unite with Habitat for Humanity to Build Homes in the O.C.

Members and friends of the UC Irvine Student Veterans Union (SVU), in coordination with the Orange County Habitat for Humanity, participated in the construction of a new affordable home community in San Juan Capistrano on Saturday, Feb. 13. Habitat for Heroes and Foundations for Families, the project under the OC Habitat for Humanity, has plans to construct 27 new homes, 18 of which have been reserved for disabled veterans and the surviving families of soldiers killed in action.

For many veterans and soldiers in SVU, service to the community is no different than uniformed service to the country. David Curry, former Marine Corps Sgt. and current president of SVU,  is a sociology and economics double major who has been volunteering on the project since Sept. 2008. David used to volunteer quarterly, but the project compelled him to become a staff volunteer last fall.

“The concept,” David said, “targeted disabled OIF/OEF veterans and families of service members killed in action and this was very appealing to me. Since I had friends who had either been killed in action or severely wounded in combat, such as double amputees, the project struck a personal chord.”

“As a veteran, I feel like I have a vested stake in the direction of my community and my country, much like a shareholder in a corporation. The key difference is that rather than merely investing currency or monetary capital, I invested my sweat and blood, as did my friends and fellow service members — some of whom made the ultimate sacrifice. It is because of their sacrifices that I feel I owe to their memory to honor them by continuing to give back to the community, particularly the veteran population. Giving back is the very least I could do.”

The affordable housing program is funded by private donors and built primarily by volunteers. Qualified home-buying applicants receive an interest-free loan and are required to pay a one percent down payment and closing costs. Additionally, applicants must work 500 “equity hours” into building their own homes and those of their future neighbors. Selections are based on need, ability to pay a mortgage and desire to work with OC Habitat for Humanity.

The UCI SVU is an affiliate of Student Veterans of America (SVA). Membership is composed of both veterans from all branches of the military and students who are interested and supportive of the veteran cause. SVU intends to create an environment that integrates  veterans with the general student body and promotes a peaceful understanding of America’s veterans and their sacrifices. More information can be found on the UCI VSU Facebook page (http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=9065359001).
OC Habitat for Humanity is actively seeking volunteers and sponsors to assist with home-building projects. For more information, please visit (http://www.habitatoc.org/Page.aspx?pid=293) or contact the Volunteer Services Manager at (volunteerservices@habitatoc.org).