Lehigh’s front lawn resembled a construction site Tuesday afternoon as students armed with safety goggles and hammers took part in the Paint Your Nail event run by Lehigh’s chapter of Habitat for Humanity.
For $2, students passing by the flagpole could paint a metal nail and hammer it onto a wooden map of the world. Students chose where they wanted to place the nail based on where they hoped to see change in the world or wherever they thought Habitat should visit next. The event was held in honor of World Habitat Day, which was observed Monday.
“(World Habitat Day) is an international day that raises awareness for the global housing crisis, with the hope that eventually everyone will have a place to live,” said Amanda Sidwell, ’17, the group’s advocacy chair.
By the end of the event, the blue and green map was awash with color, as more than 40 nails were hammered into the board. The proceeds from the event will go to Habitat for Humanity International.
Tori Aitken, ’19, a first-year member of the group, said this is the first time Habitat for Humanity has held this event.
The event, which is unique to the Lehigh chapter of Habitat for Humanity, was organized by the group’s executive board. Karen Konkoly, ’17, the organization’s president said the hands-on nature of the event was no coincidence, as the building component of Paint Your Nail is important to Habitat for Humanity’s core values.
“The event utilizes the skills used for a habitat build,” she said.
Konkoly said the hammer and nails are some of the essential tools used in building a house, and that she hopes students who participated in the event might develop an interest in Habitat for Humanity.
The group, now in its second year at Lehigh, is affiliated with the Lehigh Valley branch of Habitat for Humanity. Students participate in a minimum of one build day per semester. The building usually takes place between James and Aaron streets in Bethlehem, where Habitat has already established a presence in the community. The area, due to the large number of houses built through Habitat for Humanity, has earned the nickname Habitat Hill.
“It’s a collaborative and involved community,” Konkoly said. “You’re working among the homeowners themselves.”
She also mentioned how the number of people who are looking for houses is far greater than the number of buildings available, and how every house they build can have an impact.
“Poverty is all around the world,” Sidwell said. “But we can make a difference here.”
Konkoly expressed an interest in hosting the event again in the future, and said Habitat for Humanity is looking to increase its presence on Lehigh’s campus and in the local community.
In addition to build days, Konkoly mentioned the possibility of collaborating with the university’s wood shop to help students build smaller household items that would still be important to families in need. Other happenings include the Lehigh Valley branch’s Toast to Hope event, which serves as the group’s primary fundraiser.