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A Highlight on Youth United, Habitat for Humanity’s Youth Group (Updated)

Volunteer Services & Communications Department, Habitat for Humanity of Coastal Fairfield County

In 2022, Hannah Gunn wrote an article highlighting Youth United (YU), Habitat for Humanity of Coastal Fairfield County’s (H4H CFC) youth group. While this article remains largely accurate to what H4H and YU do, there have been some updates regarding the organization’s achievements, goals, and steps for getting involved.

In her article, Gunn writes that YU has sponsored five H4H CFC homes. However, since then, it has funded an additional two. Also, with the many fundraisers and workshops that go into these sponsorships and building of community, such as ReStores and build days, there are goals YU is looking to work toward.

Since Gunn’s article, YU has formed goals to revive discontinued activities, such as national mission trips (where volunteers travel and collaborate with other H4H sites) or Hoops for Habitat (a basketball-scoring competition, scrimmage, and a clinic for youth). 

When asked about the past mission trips, YU Advisor Phyllis Machledt claimed that “when you go to different places to connect and collaborate [with other H4H sites across the country], it is truly a different experience.” 

This distinct experience was supported by Volunteer Services and Communications Coordinator Layla Cerverizzo, who said, “[The mission trip I went on was] the most rewarding thing I have ever done.” 

As an additional goal, YU has been hoping to encourage student-led projects, specifically ones where volunteers work with Habitat homeowners and their children (like in Hoops for Habitat). This makes the act of service “much more meaningful,” said Machledt. 

A critical thing that the organization wants people to know is the gravity of YU and that they are working with future homeowner families, not for them. For instance, H4H typically requires future homeowner families to complete 200-400 sweat-equity hours to move in. 

Speaking to YU’s importance, Machledt specifically said that “the most significant thing is involving young people in becoming aware of the problem of affordable housing and being able to do something to alleviate that problem and work with, not working for, the families and building community along with a house.” 

In addition to YU Advisor Beth Rafferty saying, “We are like a big family,” YU Advisor Tamara Francis stated that the organization “allows young people to come out and give it their all and put in hard work, not for themselves. It allows you to give back from your heart.”

With this impactful organization, YU/H4H also has some advice for getting involved. 

YU President Ava Pertusiello recommends an approach similar to her own. She said, “I got involved by going to a build day and was very apprehensive, but then I went and really enjoyed it. Just living that experience and having that hands-on experience made me want to come back.” 

Simply put, if you want to join, jump right into an H4H build day, workshop, ReStore, or other activity and experience the impact and community first-hand. 

The YU group meets monthly over Zoom every second Tuesday, preceded by an Executive Board meeting on the prior Tuesday. If you want to get involved or learn more, email [email protected] for details.

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About the Contributor
Patrick Gunn '26
Patrick Gunn '26, Staff Writer
Patrick is a sophomore at St. Luke's and has been here since 5th grade. This is his second year writing for the Sentinel, and he is excited to improve his writing this season. Outside of writing, Patrick enjoys lifting, cooking, and painting.

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