One habitat at a time: High schools prepare to hand home to family

During her years as a participant in Habitat for Humanity home buildings, Patti Maillett has seen a number of keys handed over to new homeowners.

She has some advice for students of Brooklandville’s Maryvale Preparatory School and Towson’s Notre Dame Preparatory School and Calvert Hall College High Schools when they arrive at their own passing of the keys ceremony Nov. 1 in Baltimore’s Sandtown neighborhood.

“Bring their Kleenexes,” the moderator of Notre Dame’s Habitat for Humanity club said of the emotional moment.

The Sandtown Habitat for Humanity is a nonprofit Christian housing organization in West Baltimore that repairs vacant homes and seeks to improve the community as a result.

“Just the experience of building someone’s home is like building someone’s life overall,” Maryvale senior Mary Kate Sanders said. “I think everybody who does go on a build has a greater appreciation for what they have.”

The three schools came together for a labor and fundraising effort over the last year to gut and re-make a home on Baker Street. The new homeowners will be there for a noon ceremony.

The three schools sent a group of students each Saturday to hang drywall, attach siding and paint the house. Each school’s group raised $5,000 for the $15,000 project through fundraisers like dress-down days, T-shirt sales, intramural games and a collaborative flag football game at Calvert Hall.

Each school has a long history with building homes for Habitat for Humanity across the country, but the local contribution has taken on a whole new, eye-opening meaning.

“A lot of the houses are really dilapidated,” Calvert Hall senior Greg Wohlford said. “It’s just a lot of shells. I saw different parts of Baltimore I’ve never seen.”

The students worked together to clean back and side areas outside the home where trash was overflowing. Inside, the students installed new oak cabinets for the kitchen and repaired areas damaged by apparent fires.

Erin Laschinger, a senior at Notre Dame, said she felt emboldened by the idea of stabilizing troubled city neighborhoods.

“We can make a difference in Baltimore,” she said.

Catholic Review

The Catholic Review is the official publication of the Archdiocese of Baltimore.