Building Hope: KO Students Make a Difference with Habitat for Humanity - Kingswood Oxford

News & Events

November 30, 2023

Building Hope: KO Students Make a Difference with Habitat for Humanity

Upper School Teacher and Service Learning Coordinator Kathleen McLean has been on a mission this last year, and recently it paid off in spades. Well, nails and drill bits really. In early November, 18 students and six chaperones spent the day at two different Habitat for Humanity job sites, helping build homes in different stages of completion. Each site presented unique challenges and learning opportunities and brought hands-on learning to life through the multifaceted nature of the Habitat for Humanity project build.

Onsite, KO students undertook a range of tasks. From preparing to put up sheetrock, measuring and cutting wood, to erecting walls and hammering insulation on the roof, each task contributed to the larger goal of building homes. Working alongside prospective Habitat homeowners added a unique dimension, emphasizing the shared responsibility of creating ‘sweat equity.’


The aspirations extend beyond the physical construction for McLean. For her, exposure to different parts of Hartford and an understanding of the critical need for affordable housing are fundamental takeaways from this ongoing initiative. “My hope is that this experience sparks interest in the campus chapter, where advocacy, education, fundraising, and further volunteer opportunities await.” Ultimately, the goal is to nurture socially conscious individuals who recognize the importance of strong communities built on the foundation of affordable housing.


The project started well before November and came with a great deal of dedication and effort from McLean. About a year ago, she reached out to Habitat for Humanity in hopes of setting up the opportunity to participate with students in a build date. Over the year, McLean garnered interest in furthering the initiative, including bringing two students to the Habitat for Humanity Youth Advocacy and Engagement Conference in April. McLean’s efforts and the conference experience sparked the students’ interest in forming a campus chapter of Habitat for Humanity and recruiting others. The momentum built as more students joined, culminating in a visit from the director of community engagement at the beginning of the year. The journey was a testament to the power of sustained interest and engagement. Finally, based on their interest and eagerness this fall, the KO Habitat for Humanity group was invited to participate in a build date in November.


On the day of the build, enthusiasm echoed on both sides as volunteer crew chiefs welcomed the KO crew with open arms. The presence of Director of Community Engagement Ryan Gorecki and Volunteer Coordinator Liz Kalfayan underscored the significance of the collaboration. They were grateful and impressed by the collective effort and commitment demonstrated by the Kingswood team.


The day’s success was evident in the shared sense of accomplishment among the students. Stepping out of comfort zones, working toward a common goal, and contributing to a home for a family in need fostered a powerful sense of purpose. McLean shares that continuing this partnership is crucial not only for the tangible impact on affordable housing but also for expanding students’ perspectives. Exposure to diverse communities and the pressing need for safe, affordable housing is a vital part of their education, enriching their understanding of the world beyond their immediate surroundings. This initiative, rooted in compassion and social responsibility, serves as a beacon for the Kingswood Oxford community to continue making a meaningful difference in the lives of others.


Main News

KO and a Cup of Joe – Thursday Mornings throughout the Summer

Join us for a brief information session to learn about the academic and co-curricular offerings at Kingswood Oxford School during the summer: June 20, 27, July 11, 18, 25, August 1, and 8 at 8:30 a.m. in Roberts Building’s lower lobby. For more information, contact our Admissions Office at (860) 727-5000. What a Difference a Day Makes!