IU, Kelley School and Whirlpool partnering on Habitat for Humanity campus build in Bloomington

New home being built Sept. 21 to Oct. 1 near IU's Memorial Stadium

  • Sept. 19, 2016


BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- For much of their 12-year marriage, Jeff and Carla Wyatt hadn’t entertained many thoughts of buying a home. But their life took a significant turn when they assumed custody of their two young granddaughters.

“It was what we needed,” Carla said of their apartment, which was affordable but in poor repair. “But once we took guardianship of the girls, it was not going to work anymore.”

“The need for the house came after the girls came,” added Jeff, who works at St. Mark’s United Methodist Church.

Once their new Habitat for Humanity home being built at Indiana University is complete, they will move from a cramped, drafty 506-square-foot apartment with no safe place to play into a house twice its size and with a yard for Keelahlah, 7, and Kyla, 3.

“We’ll have a nice yard to play in, and I’ll get my own room where I can read 'Frozen' whenever I want,” Keelahlah said enthusiastically.

Construction will begin Sept. 21 on the Wyatts’ home, the seventh Habitat for Humanity house being built with a Bloomington family by IU students, faculty, alumni and staff on campus, sponsored by Whirlpool Corp.

Since 2010, six Bloomington families have accepted their house keys on the football field at IU's Memorial Stadium, not far from where the houses were built, across 17th Street and near the Virgil T. DeVault Alumni Center. The Wyatt family will do so Oct. 1, before IU’s game against Michigan State.

This also is the seventh year that Whirlpool has returned to IU Bloomington to sponsor the blitz build jointly with IU, its Kelley School of Business and Habitat for Humanity of Monroe County.

After the 10-day build, the house will be moved to McDoel Gardens, a core Bloomington neighborhood, just southwest of campus and within walking distance of downtown. 

Whirlpool-sponsored homes have been relocated in the past to another core neighborhood, and all of these lots have been single lots in long-standing Bloomington neighborhoods. This is one way Habitat seeks to strengthen the fabric of Bloomington, providing affordable, quality housing central to downtown.

“Habitat for Humanity builds futures,” said IU Bloomington Provost and Executive Vice President Lauren Robel, a member of the Habitat board in Monroe County. “When our students hammer nails and hang sheetrock alongside the hardworking family who will buy and live in that home, they receive as much as they give. 

“They exercise their team-building skills, but more than that, they exercise their imaginations and empathy, and learn to understand and appreciate their neighbors in our community.”

Kelley School of Business Dean Idalene “Idie” Kesner said that watching the house take shape on 17th Street every year during the 10-day building blitz is a wonderful reminder of what we can achieve when we all work together.

“It really is quite remarkable when you consider the number of hands that will work on the house, and the logistics of making it all happen in such a short time,” Kesner said. “Every person’s role is important. In the classroom, we emphasize being collaborative and being of service. This is a perfect example, in all aspects, of putting those traits into action.”

More than 400 undergraduate and graduate students from more than 15 Kelley and IU campus organizations will volunteer to be part of the build, along with faculty, administrators, and IU and Michigan State alumni, including those now working at Whirlpool.

Among them will be Jim Peters, executive vice president and chief financial officer of Whirlpool Corp. and an IU Kelley graduate.

"Whirlpool Corp. has partnered with Habitat for Humanity for 17 years in over 45 countries around the world to help nearly 90,000 families realize their dream of owning a home," Peters said. "We are honored to work again with IU, the Kelley School of Business, the Bloomington community and Habitat for Humanity of Monroe County to create a home for the Wyatt family."

“Whirlpool sets a great standard for corporate citizenship and innovation in the ways they give back,” said Kerry Thomson, CEO of Habitat for Humanity of Monroe County. “Not only are they involved with supporting Habitat’s global mission, they gift a new range and refrigerator to every new Habitat home in the United States. We are honored to have their partnership in a house sponsorship right here in Bloomington.

“It is a reflection of their commitment to Indiana University, where many of Whirlpool’s top leaders have graduated, and to the wider Bloomington community in providing quality affordable housing to those who live and work here,” Thomson added.

As apartment dwellers, the Wyatts have had their stove fail while preparing Thanksgiving dinner. They have seen police tackling a bank robbery suspect a few feet from their door. There’s a hole in the floor.

At their new home, Carla looks forward to having a garden. Jeff looks forward to not waiting weeks for a maintenance man to fix something, like the stove. But most importantly, they want to provide for their second family.

“I want to make sure that if something were to happen, that the girls will be taken care of,” Carla said. “Jeff and I are both old enough that we’ve lived in situations where in the spur of the moment we had to leave. I’ve been homeless several times, and I don’t want anyone to ever do that to the girls.

“This house will give them more of a family sense,” she added. “Our family will be there.”

Thomson noted that the Wyatts have worked diligently to make their dream of home ownership a reality. To qualify for a Habitat home, each family must have the ability to pay a zero-interest mortgage and invest at least 250 hours of "sweat equity" or volunteer hours.

Those working on the build from IU will include Fry Scholars and other students in the Business Honors Program, Civic Leadership Development, the Kelley Living Learning Center and the Hutton Honors College.

The build is one of 10 Whirlpool-sponsored Habitat builds taking place throughout the United States in 2016 and part of the company's ongoing initiative to donate a range and refrigerator to every new Habitat home in the U.S. Whirlpool has been a Habitat partner since 1999 and has contributed nearly $95 million in products to help new houses feel more like home.

Anyone in the IU community can participate in the upcoming campus build. Those interested should contact the Kelley School's Institute for Social Impact program at 812-856-7852 or KISI@indiana.edu.

Related Links

The Wyatt family

The Wyatt family

Print-Quality Photo

More than 400 students will work with faculty, staff, alumni and Whirlpool officials during the 10-day build.

More than 400 students will work with faculty, staff, alumni and Whirlpool officials during the 10-day build.

Print-Quality Photo

Media Contacts

George Vlahakis

  • IU Communications
  • Office 812-855-0846
  • Cell 812-345-1500
  • vlahakis@iu.edu
  • IU Inc.

Elizabeth Bauder

  • Habitat for Humanity of Monroe County
  • Office 812-331-4069
  • bauder@monroecountyhabitat.org

Whirlpool Media Line

  • Office 269-923-7405
  • media@whirlpool.com

Nakia Fowler

  • Habitat for Humanity International
  • Office 404-962-3445
  • nfowler@habitat.org