Local woman makes helping a habit

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Shelly Birkelo
Saturday, February 23, 2013

— Kimberly VanBeek feels most like herself when she's helping someone in need.

For 10 days earlier this month she did just that, as a volunteer in Puerto Lempira, Honduras.

The 22-year-old from Janesville joined five volunteers from Door County Habitat for Humanity as part of Global Village, a Habitat for Humanity International initiative that spans the world.

Groups of volunteers travel for extended stays to work at Habitat build sites and build decent, affordable shelters for those in need, VanBeek said.

"This trip was an incredible way for our local (Habitat) affiliate to strength our connection with another affiliate in Wisconsin," said VanBeek, who is the development associate for Habitat for Humanity of Rock and Jefferson Counties.

The Door County affiliate organized the trip, VanBeek said.

The trek to Honduras was critical in connecting with an affiliate outside of the United States, she said.

"Being able to do something on an international level is something I couldn't pass up," she said. "I love to travel and experience other cultures. It was an incredible experience."

During the mission, VanBeek and the others began construction of an 18-by-18-square-foot home for a single mother with four children. The family receiving the home also was on site helping each day, and local community members who happened by often stopped to help, she said.

"We all came together from different backgrounds and beliefs for one purpose: to build this one house for a family we didn't know," she said. "It was a great sense of community."

Together the group worked Monday through Friday, hauling materials to the worksite.

"There was concrete block, gravel and sand that was dropped off a couple hundred feet from the house, so we carried everything closer to the work site, sifted through sand to mix mortar and concrete, and laid concrete blocks in the space," VanBeek said.

The volunteers weren't able to finish the house by week's end. However, they learned shortly after returning to Wisconsin that Honduran masons had completed the job.

"There are an overwhelming number of families who need our help and it's such a fulfilling experience to be part of something so life changing," VanBeek said.

To learn more

Kimberly VanBeek, development associate for Habitat for Humanity of Rock and Jefferson Counties, is willing to speak to churches or local organizations about her recent trip to Honduras through Global Village, a Habitat for Humanity International initiative.

To request this speaker's bureau, call VanBeek at 608-754-1228 or email development@hfhrjc.org.

Last updated: 8:08 am Monday, April 29, 2013

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