After a year’s hiatus due to Covid-19, students, faculty and staff from Indiana University and the Kelley School of Business are building a new home with a Bloomington family through Habitat for Humanity of Monroe County, with support from Whirlpool Corporation.
This year’s Habitat build is especially meaningful and distinctive in several ways. This will be the largest house built by IU and Kelley students since Whirlpool Corporation – a key corporate supporter and recruiter of students from the Kelley School – began a partnership with Habitat for Humanity International to construct homes in Monroe County in 2010.
The 11th Whirlpool-Kelley-Habitat Blitz Build also will kick off a world tour that will provide more than $6 million in funding and home appliances to Habitat organizations worldwide. This will be one of the first Whirlpool home builds since the start of the pandemic.
In the past, the Habitat blitz builds took place across 17th Street from the IU Athletics complex. Ten single-level homes were relocated to permanent locations across Bloomington weeks after being dedicated. This year, a two-story, five-bedroom house for a family of seven will be constructed on its foundation at Osage Place, Habitat’s third neighborhood in Monroe County, located on the city’s south side.
Many students participating in the build are involved with the Kelley Institute for Social Impact, which serves as a hub within the school for socially-conscious undergraduate students who want to make a difference in local and global communities through education, service, career development and leadership opportunities.On Oct. 12 and 13, students, faculty and staff will build wall components for the house in Dunn Meadow on the IU Bloomington campus, before construction shifts to the build site on Oct. 14-16 and Oct. 26-30.
“This Blitz Build is one of my favorite events at Kelley, and I enjoy volunteering each year alongside Kelley students and staff, Whirlpool representatives, the wonderful people from Habitat for Humanity and the future homeowners,” said Idalene “Idie” Kesner, dean of the IU Kelley School of Business and the Frank P. Popoff Chair of Strategic Management.
“Whirlpool is an excellent example of a company that strives to make a difference in communities around the world. We appreciate the opportunity for our students to see Whirlpool’s model up close, providing them with a real-world experience of seeing social and environmental responsibility in action, while helping a family attain their dream of home ownership,” Kesner added.
More than 2,300 IU students, staff, faculty and alumni have come together to build the previous 10 homes alongside Monroe County families.
Current and former Whirlpool executives with strong ties to Kelley – including alumnus and former CEO Jeff Fettig — will join volunteers, school leadership and national and local Habitat representatives at an official groundbreaking ceremony on Oct. 16.“This is an event we look forward to every year,” said Marc Bitzer, chairman and CEO for Whirlpool Corporation. “I’m delighted to be building alongside Indiana University students, faculty and staff to help improve life for another deserving family this year.”
Afterward, future homeowners Javier and Veronica will symbolically receive the keys to their new home on the field at Memorial Stadium before IU’s homecoming football game against Michigan State University.
Javier and Veronica moved to Bloomington in 1999, each from different cities in central Mexico. They and their five children – ages from five to 16 — currently live in an overcrowded three-bedroom apartment. They were introduced to Habitat through Javier’s sister, who moved into her Habitat home in 2016. They have waited nearly two years to see their dream of a home come to fruition, because of the pandemic.
The family also faced setbacks during the pandemic – both Javier and Veronica worked in service-oriented positions in restaurants, and he lost his position during the widespread shutdowns. He has since found other work as a handyman, while Veronica works at a restaurant in nearby Solsberry.
“One of the things that we have learned is to have patience,” Javier said. “We are very relieved, very proud to be working together with Habitat to have a house for our children.”
Veronica added that they look forward to having more space for themselves and a yard as well. “My children are happy because we will have our home and they will no longer have to move from one place to another. It is a place where we are all going to be united – watching them grow and enjoying their home,” she said.
The homes in Osage Place will have a special focus on energy efficiency and are being built to net-zero energy capability – including being solar ready. As part of the BuildBetter with Whirlpool initiative, this home will include energy efficient features to mitigate effects of climate change. It will include high efficiency heating and cooling and water-conserving plumbing fixtures and will be the first home in Osage Place outfitted with solar panels.
“We are excited to partner with Whirlpool, IU, and the Kelley School of Business as we begin building the third home in Osage Place. This feels like the perfect build to showcase Whirlpool’s commitment to their global corporate social responsibility approach, House + Home, as the organization launches their 110-year anniversary World Tour,” said Wendi Goodlett, CEO of Habitat for Humanity of Monroe County. “Thanks to the BuildBetter Initiative, Javier and Veronica’s home will be the first in the neighborhood equipped with solar panels, and will present the opportunity to immediately decrease their utility expenses and carbon footprint.
“Gifts of financial support and time from donors like Whirlpool creates a lasting impact for future families.” Goodlett added. “As Javier and Veronica begin paying their mortgage and building equity in their home, their mortgage payments will help fund the materials needed to serve future Habitat families.”
The Whirlpool Corporation has sponsored every campus build since the program’s inception, and this year marks 20 years of collaboration with Habitat for Humanity. Since 1999, the company has supported Habitat programs across 45 countries with a commitment of more than $130 million and more than 207,00 donated ranges and refrigerators to new Habitat homes across the U.S. and Canada.
All who qualify for the Habitat program do so based on the same three criteria: need for housing, ability to pay back their affordable mortgage, and a willingness to partner. Each adult member living in a Habitat home must invest 250 hours of volunteering, called sweat equity, prior to closing on their house. Javier and Veronica were frequent volunteers at the Habitat ReStore, and they have also helped on other future homeowner’s construction projects.
“We are grateful for everyone who has helped us. We really didn’t think it was possible, but I thank everyone for the support they are giving us,” Veronica said. “We’ve learned it won’t be a traditional process of how the house will be built, but we will work with all sorts of people in our community. We are grateful for the Bloomington community, IU, Whirlpool, and certainly for Habitat.”
The public is welcome to attend the groundbreaking ceremony at the building site at 9 a.m. Oct. 16. Parking is located at 650 W Guy Ave.