While many people associate Habitat for Humanity as a home-building project, there are other ways in which volunteers can become involved in the organization. Allison Addison is a perfect example. After growing up in Toccoa, Ga. surrounded by books, Addison understands the importance of providing children’s books to families to develop a habit of reading at a young age. Her love of books and giving spirit prompted Addison to start something wonderful.
“One of the projects I noticed had grown in popularity at libraries across the country is the concept of getting children’s books in kid’s bedrooms and in their home where it becomes a custom to just grab a book and read,” Addison said.
As a volunteer and member of the Oconee County library board, getting books in childrens’ bedrooms was a priority. Pickens County Habitat for Humanity provided the perfect opportunity to enhance the homeownership experience for children by providing them with their own element of ownership – a library of books to read.
Addison knew that this book donation program would not only promote public and school libraries within the county, but would also emphasize the importance of having accessible books for children to develop a habit of reading at a young age.
“I was surrounded by books growing up and I think that’s probably why it became a habit to read,” Addison said.
After reading books at a young age herself, Addison wanted to offer the same for families who likely do not have the resources available. The program supplies each new Habitat family with a collection of 15 to 20 books. Addison tries to accommodate different ages so that the children have books to grow into. Books include anything from Dr. Seuss, to longer chapter books for children approaching their early teens. Many of the book donations come from the Clemson Sunrise Rotary club, but other donations have come from co-workers or even the Clemson Athletics department.
Clemson Athletics has also played an important role in Addison’s journey with Habitat for Humanity. Addison’s husband, Jacob, works for the athletics department on the grounds crew and has continuously volunteered with Habitat on the building side of things.
“I love that Jacob and I can each be involved, but our different strengths can be utilized. I think that helps to show the diversity of the work that Habitat does and the role that it plays,” Addison said.
Addison’s husband helped complete the CU Athletics Build of 2019 alongside a work crew of six other volunteers tasked with the heavy-lifting of the project. For the two, Habitat represents a continual building of community where they can both be involved together through diverse work that compliments their personal strengths and capabilities.
“There are a lot of opportunities in our own communities to just be helpful where you can be. Habitat creates an opportunity to be able to do that – to be able to grow alongside people, other volunteers and homeowners and see how we all rise when everyone is working together and working towards a common goal,” Addison said.
There are unique opportunities for anyone to be involved with Habitat, regardless of skill sets. Volunteering with Habitat has given Addison and her husband a greater connection to their faith while serving others. Addison strongly believes in being helpful in any way possible and hopes to continue to grow her book donation program in the future.
Addison’s role through book donations typically takes place towards the end of the home-building process. Being a part of the joy and excitement that comes with a finished house is one of Addison’s favorite parts of volunteering. She gets to see the final product of each house and stock them with a new collection of books to read.
“I see people when they’re so excited and so happy to be moving into something that they were working towards for so long and I think that’s one of the unique things about Habitat,” she said.
Each home plays an important role in the memories and livelihoods of Habitat families – which is what makes Addison’s volunteer experience so rewarding. Seeing the smiling faces of families and children moving into their new homes is what continues the momentum of giving back and building more houses in the community.