Resource Page for Teachers
Written by Lynn and Bob Gillen
St. Anthony Messenger
Curriculum Connections -
This classroom resource guide will support curriculum in several areas:
- Religion - Christian life-styles; charity in action
- Social Studies - economic development; self-help for the poor; social conditions in the United States and worldwide
Idea One - Appreciating the Importance of an Adequate Home
A. Glossary of Basic Terms
Your students may find it helpful first to create a glossary of terms relating to this months article. Definitions can be researched from the article itself, or from the resource materials cited below.
Terms to define will include:
Corporal works of mercy
B. Statistics on Homelessness and Substandard Housing
Your students will better understand the impact of Habitat for Humanity if they research statistics on the need for housing among the poor of this country as well as the rest of the world.
Just one example: On any given night, 11,000 people are homeless on the streets of Atlanta, Georgia. This does not include people in substandard housing. These 11,000 sleep in abandoned buildings, in cars, under bridges, in makeshift huts or on the street. See the site http://www.researchatlanta.org for further information on the city of Atlanta.
This situation is repeated every night in many cities across the United States. Using Internet search engines, your students can research statistics for their own city or town. Also, they can talk to local officials or housing advocates responsible for gathering data or for assisting the poor and homeless.
See also http://www.iugm.org/stats, the site of the International Union of Gospel Missions, for further statistics on the homeless and the poor throughout the world.
C. Solutions to the Problem
Habitat for Humanity sets out to build decent housing for those
poor people who live in run-down houses, shacks and other forms
of substandard housing. This months article highlights Habitats
mission to replace inadequate housing with decent homes for the
poor. (See http://www.habitat.org
.) Habitat officials focus on people who have the ability to help
themselves. One man, Millard Fuller, began an individual effort
that has become a worldwide movement embraced by thousands of volunteers.
Can your students identify other individuals who have done something
similar in other situations of social need?
The Homeless Who are Mentally Ill or Drug Abusers
Often people suffer from illnesses or addictions so strong they cannot help themselves. These people end up homeless, either because they have no resources with which to maintain a home, or because they have been institutionalized and then released, with nowhere to go but the street.
Organizations other than Habitat for Humanity work to help these people. Dorothy Day, for example, was instrumental in starting The Catholic Worker, with its urban soup kitchens and resource centers for the homeless. See http://www.cais.com for an unofficial Catholic Worker site, which will direct you to centers in your local area. Many churches and urban municipalities also set up shelters and programs for the homeless. You can find them in your local phone book, by asking at your parish, searching on the Internet or perhaps by inquiring at your local newspaper office.
Idea Two - How Can a Teenager Help?
A. A Sense of Mission
In the Gospels, Jesus did not hedge in telling his followers how important it was to practice works of mercy. In Matthew 25:31-46, Jesus tells us when we act in kindness and concern for another human being, we do it for him as well. This Gospel passage is the basis for the corporal works of mercy. Search the Internet under "corporal works of mercy" for sources listing all seven corporal works.
On a broader basis, see http://www.catholic.net, for example, for reference to the Catechism of the Catholic Church and the encyclicals (the written teachings) of the popes of the Church. Here your students can learn more about the social mission of the Catholic Church, its efforts to promote human values and dignity and its concern for the poor of the world.
B. Teenage Leadership
Teenagers and college students have been strong volunteer supporters for the various Habitat for Humanity projects throughout the world. By contacting a local Habitat office, your students may be able to reach other teenagers who have worked on a Habitat project. They can interview these teens, by note-taking or with a video camera, for presentation to the class or discussion group. Or the Habitat office may allow access to a teenager who now lives in a Habitat home, for interview.
Your students may wish to research additional outlets for volunteer efforts.
- The Longacre Farm in Pennsylvania runs a summer program, the Longacre Leadership Program, for teenagers. This program stresses self-development and cultivates community leadership. Habitat for Humanity is one of a number of programs that Longacre participates in each summer. See http://www.longacre.com.
- The "Take a Bite Out of Crime" crime-prevention program, at http://www.weprevent.org, offers suggestions on how teenagers can have an impact on adverse social conditions. The site promotes 20 practical ideas that teens can implement to do something right.
C. Designing a House like the Habitat Homes
As a group project, your students may enjoy designing, or finding a design for, a small home that would provide adequate housing for a fictitious family. They can create a sample family with a teenager and perhaps younger siblings, then determine what kind of housing would be needed for this family to live comfortably. They should also consider ways in which to make the home continually manageable for the families even after the construction is complete, for example, ways to make the home energy-efficient. For research, your students can use these resources:
- Magazines such as Architectural Digest, This Old House and Old-House Journal.
- Books such as Bob Vilas This Old House, or any of the many house plan books available in libraries and bookstores.
- Some students may even have access to computer software for house plan design, which would allow them to design their sample home through to the blueprint stage.
As part of the design process, your students can discuss what they take for granted in their own homes as they go about a normal day. What do they have that a homeless teen does not have? What is a teenager living in a substandard home missing? Direct the students to include these elements in their plan designs. They can photocopy their chosen plan design, enlarge it and label/identify housing features they want for their fictitious family.
D. The Cost of Housing
A major part of Habitat for Humanitys purpose is to build low-cost housing. Volunteer labor and donated supplies contribute to keeping costs low. Your students may want to take their design project further by researching the value of these services and donations. They can call a local builder, or contact a contractor who does work for their church or school. Using their suggested design, or identifying a similar design built by the local contractor, they can ask what percentage of total cost is the value of labor in building the home, and what percent is the cost of materials? This can give them a greater appreciation for the work of Habitat. It will also give them a deeper appreciation for the value of the "sweat equity" contributed by each Habitat owner.
Lynn and Bob Gillen are the authors of this online teachers resource and have been writing together for 13 years. Their work includes a past article in St. Anthony Messenger, as well as articles for publications in the music and entertainment industry. In addition to writing this resource guide for the past year, the Gillens have also created a yet-to-be-published teachers study guide for CBSs weekly television series Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman.
The links contained within this resource guide are functional at the time the page is posted. Over time, however, some of the links may become ineffective.
Further Online Resources
Try accessing some of these Internet sources for further reference. Be aware, however, that some of these sites may charge for downloading articles contained within the sites archives.
http://www.nytimes.com/ - The New York Times
http://www.latimes.com/ - The Los Angeles Times
http://www.time.com/ - Time magazine
http://www.cnn.com/ - CNN
http://www.msnbc.com/ - MSNBC
http://www.pathfinder.com/ - This site will take you to a number of online publications.
http://wire.ap.org/ - The Associated Press
http://www.chicago.tribune.com/ - The Chicago Tribune
http://www.people.com/ - People magazine
http://www.washingtonpost.com/- The Washington Post
http://www.herald.com/ - The Miami Herald
http://www.closeup.org/ - The Close Up Foundation
Further Print Resources
If I Were a Carpenter: Twenty Years of Habitat for Humanity, Frye Gaillard, John F. Blair Publ., Winston-Salem, 1996.
This Old House, Bob Vila, Little Brown, Boston, 1980.
The links contained within this resource guide are functional
at the time the page is posted. Over time, however, some of the links
may become ineffective.
These links are provided solely as a convenience to you
and not as an endorsement by St. Anthony Messenger Press/Franciscan
Communications of the contents on such third-party Web sites. St. Anthony
Messenger Press/Franciscan Communications is not responsible for the
content of linked third-party sites and does not make any representations
regarding the content or accuracy of materials on such third-party Web
sites. If you decide to access linked third-party Web sites, you do
so at your own risk.