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SECA: Building a home, building a life

image of Carol Mack

Carol Mack works to build her own home with Habitat for Humanity.

It is more than a house.

More than walls and carpets and ceilings, the house the ISU/IWU chapter of Habitat for Humanity built for Carol Mack represented a new world.

“It means stability, having a place that is home,” said Mack, who has worked at Illinois State’s Redbird Card Office in the Bone Student Center for the past 15 years.

Habitat for Humanity builds low-cost houses with the help of the struggling families who will reside in them. Mack first heard of the organization long before she joined Illinois State. “I was a young, single parent with little kids, working part-time in retail,” she said. A neighbor told her about Habitat, and she applied. “Actually, I applied several times before I was accepted,” she said.

It was those rejections that put Mack on a steadier path. “Habitat people would not just stamp a paper that said you were not approved. They met with me and said, ‘Here is where you are. Here is where you need to go financially so you can be considered.’ They gave me goals,” she said.

Following the organizations’ advice, Mack took classes at the local community college, and landed a job that became full-time at a trucking company. She began working at Illinois State in 1998.

It wasn’t until 2001 that Mack’s application for a house was approved and work began with Habitat. Mack joined the students and volunteers of the local Habitat chapter as they created her Bloomington home and other homes. “You learn a lot about building. It’s tough to look at a house and understand all that goes on underneath.”

image of Habitat for Humanity build

Students from the ISU/IWU chapter of Habitat for Humanity helped build Carol Mack’s home.

During construction, Mack gathered up the courage to take the class she dreaded the most – speech – at Illinois State. “One of my in-class speeches was about my Habitat home,” said Mack. “There was a student in the class who heard my speech and came to work on my house. Then she took the idea of Habitat back to her own community because she realized how great it was. I love that.”

For Mack, organizations like Habitat do more than help one family at a time. “They really do help the community. Yes, they build affordable housing, but they are also changing lives. I know first-hand. And every year, more and more lives are changing thanks to Habitat.”

Habitat for Humanity Illinois is one of nearly 2,000 charities in the State Employees Combined Appeal (SECA) catalog. The SECA campaign runs through Nov. 15 at Illinois State.

Find more information on SECA, including pledge forms and stories about how SECA impacts the lives of ISU employees.

Find additional information on the ISU/IWU chapter of Habitat for Humanity.

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