Annual gala commemorates 30th anniversary and 20th build this year
At this month’s gala for Habitat for Humanity of Montgomery County, Texas (HabitatMCTX), they will celebrate their 30th anniversary as well as their unique partnership with The John Cooper School, who is building their 20th consecutive home this year.
Cooper’s Habitat Project is considered the “crown jewel” of the many service projects supported by the school community. What began as a single proposal by students to the school’s Board of Trustees in 1999 has grown beyond expectations and has had far-reaching positive effects on the lives of many people.
The first home was dedicated on April 15, 2000 with Rev. Dr. Richard Whatcroft, a friend of Mr. John Cooper and one of the original board of 25 who planned The Woodlands, attending the ceremony that was held in Conroe.
Every year since, Cooper students log approximately 3,000 volunteer hours to build what is affectionately dubbed “The House That John Built.”
For two decades, the Cooper community has helped a family have their own home. Mitchell Daniel (Class of ’07) reflects on his experience. “Habitat was the most gratifying way to really help a family and then see the family that you have helped,” he said. “Habitat remains the best community service project I’ve worked on. It is a very humbling and rewarding experience to be able to help out the nearby community and have a profound impact on a family’s life.”
The completion of each Habitat Project is celebrated at the annual John Cooper Day all-school assembly that honors the school’s founder. It’s there that the next year’s project co-chairs are announced and awarded a “golden hammer.” The 2019 student Lead Co-Chairs, seniors Kate Burns and Christopher McDonald, brought much experience to the new position.
McDonald remembers helping to plant flowers as a third grader and Burns first supported the project at Middle School Paint Day. Last year, Burns was the publicity chair and McDonald was the service chair and both said they have learned a great deal leading the project.
McDonald said the role has been educational to see the many aspects, big and small, that go into completion of the home. Then there’s the fulfillment of putting in a hard day’s work. “It’s very satisfying,” Burns said. “You’re tired from a long day of work, but you know it’s toward a bigger goal of completing a house for someone else.” Both students plan to return for Alumni workday next December and see their completed home in a community with all the “Houses that John Built” that have been constructed in the Cedar Creek neighborhood in Conroe.
Faculty sponsors for the 2019 project include Scott Blackburn, Deana Hines and Samir Muhith. “It’s a really unique program and an opportunity for our students and our community to be involved to a full-scale build, from fundraising through construction,” Muhith said. “It speaks to who we are and the commitment of our entire community; without everyone’s support it wouldn’t happen.”
Habitat homes are sold to families, not given to them free of charge. In addition, families help to build their own home. By building homes at low cost and not collecting a down payment or interest on the mortgage, Habitat for Humanity is able to provide a hand up for families that would not otherwise qualify for a conventional mortgage. HabitatMCTX has built 127 homes in the county. Last year, volunteers and home sponsors donated more than 24,000 hours to help build and repair homes, and new homeowners contributed more than 2,100 sweat equity hours to help build their home and their neighbors.
Vicki Johnson, Executive Director of Habitat for Humanity of Montgomery County, added “We are thrilled to recognize our unique partnership with The John Cooper School’s faculty and student leadership at our 2019 Building Hope Gala. As we observe our 30th anniversary and our longtime partnership with John Cooper, we reflect on our mutual commitment to build our community together and to make a difference for families that will last for generations to come.”
Learn more about these organizations at HabitatMCTX.org and JohnCooper.org.
COURTESY: Liz Grimm