When David Paavola – a partner with Lewis Babcock L.L.P. law firm – was a student at Baylor University two decades ago, he and his wife spent weekends volunteering with Habitat for Humanity building needed homes in the Waco, Texas, area.
Now, he is president of the board of Central South Carolina Habitat, right here in Columbia.
He found the work of helping families build better lives by building their own homes very rewarding in his youth, so when he went looking as an experienced attorney to get more involved in his community, Habitat was a perfect fit. He joined the board in 2019 as an advisory member and was elected to the board in 2020.
Habitat for Humanity International was founded in Georgia in 1976 by Millard and Linda Fuller. The Central SC chapter was founded in 1985, and since then has provided more than 250 homes in partnership with individuals and organizations across Richland and Lexington Counties. Learn more about it here: https://www.habitatcsc.org/
Paavola appreciates the basic concept of Habitat, especially the fact that it gives families “A helping hand up.” Contrary to what many people wrongly believe, Habitat doesn’t give away homes, it gives an opportunity for affordable homeownership to those who have completed hundreds of hours of sweat equity and months of preparation. The organization is proud of providing more than just housing.
Habitat homeowners receive financial education, and learn about building and maintaining their own homes, all while paying an affordable mortgage. Before they move into their new homes, the families put in a lot of “sweat equity,” helping others build their homes before they help build their own. As the local chapter’s website says:
Habitat believes that a decent place to live, and an affordable mortgage, creates a situation where homeowners can save more, invest in education, pursue opportunity, and have more financial stability. With our help, homeowners achieve the strength, stability, and independence they need to build a better future for themselves and for their families.
The local Habitat has extended the concept beyond individual, new houses. It has focused in recent years on neighborhood revitalization. After building a new house or two where it has the opportunity, the organization then turns to revamping surrounding, existing homes, thereby helping to improve the whole area.
That way, notes Paavola, more than one family benefits. The whole community becomes stronger.