David Peterson, ’19, found his vocation through volunteering with Habitat for Humanity projects at home and at State.
When casual observers look at a Habitat for Humanity house, they may see just a house.
That’s exactly what Indiana State senior David Peterson saw. That is, until the Zionsville native became a volunteer with the organization during high school.
“My parents have always been about giving back to the community. They’re both very handy and they do a lot of home projects, so I guess that’s where I got my hands-on skills for doing home improvements,” said Peterson, a construction management major and president of Pi Kappa Alpha Fraternity at Indiana State. “The first interaction I had with Habitat for Humanity was through my church, which sponsored a house. I was too young to volunteer, but I remember my dad telling me he was going to volunteer. He also told me what Habitat for Humanity was all about.”
After graduating from high school, Peterson enrolled at St. John Fisher College in Rochester, N.Y., where he majored in general business. He played lacrosse and was awarded the service scholarship, which required completion of 130 hours of community service his freshman year.
“They required me to pick one nonprofit organization to work with and that’s when I picked Habitat for Humanity, because I thought it would be a fun experience and good life skills to learn — working with tools and doing home improvements,” he said.
After his first semester, though, he still didn’t know what he wanted to do after college. “I knew from taking general business classes that I didn’t want to sit behind a desk all day and be stuck in an office. I also knew after doing over 100 hours of community service with Habitat for Humanity, I enjoyed the experience a lot,” he said. “I liked building and working on the job sites. My dad and I talked a little bit about construction management and about how there would be a lot of jobs where I wouldn’t be stuck behind a desk.”
Peterson began looking to transfer to an in-state construction management program when his father, who is an Indiana State alumnus, suggested his alma mater. It was the perfect fit.
“Through the construction management program at ISU, I had the opportunity that fall to go to the Associated Schools of Construction Region III competition in Chicago as part of the design-build team,” he said. “Just starting out at ISU, this competition gave me real-life experience working with a team and learning from them through a project that we presented. It was also a great opportunity because there was a career fair there, where got my first interview and internship with Lithko Contracting, a concrete subcontractor based out of Indianapolis.”
Since becoming a Sycamore, Peterson joined the Construction Management Club and Sigma Lambda Chi, the honorary construction society. This fall, he turned his summer internship with Weddle Bros., a general contractor in Bloomington, Ind., into a job.
He also connected his service for the Habitat for Humanity in Boone County to the Wabash Valley Habitat for Humanity. Peterson pitched in on two houses south of campus and joined the Wabash Valley board in May 2017 as the Indiana State representative and voting member.
“I have had some experience volunteering on-site since I came to college, but serving as a member of their board is a new experience, seeing the behind-the-scenes of a nonprofit,” he said. “I already know what they produce, but being on the board I get to see how they get there, get the money and select families.”
Peterson also helps the Habitat staff work with Indiana State to get volunteers and work with professors on projects, whether it’s building a playset or sheds or other small projects.
“When I started with Habitat for Humanity, I was a volunteer working on building a house for a family. You just think about what you’re doing to help that one family, but Habitat for Humanity, especially Wabash Valley Habitat for Humanity, does more than just building homes for families,” he said. “They’re helping develop neighborhoods and communities, especially in the Ryves Neighborhood. They’re restoring and doing one-day projects for houses that can really impact families and to build a sense of community that will raise people’s spirits.”
State sponsoring third Habitat build
Fundraising is underway for Indiana State’s third Habitat for Humanity house, the 72nd in the Wabash Valley. It will be built for a local family in the Ryves neighborhood in fall 2019.
For more information, go to wvh4h.org