BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Before coming to the United States from Mexico eight years ago, Irving Castañeda Baltazar enjoyed helping build houses for his mother and other family members. And over the past two years, he's similarly enjoyed his experiences with Habitat for Humanity in Bloomington.
Baltazar soon will become a homeowner himself. He will be moving into the eighth Habitat for Humanity house being built on campus by a Bloomington resident and Indiana University and Kelley School of Business students, faculty, alumni and staff.
The build is sponsored by Whirlpool Corp., which also will be providing all of the house's appliances. Construction will begin Oct. 3 at a new location on the IU Bloomington campus: at the intersection of 17th Street and Fee Lane.
The house will be dedicated at 9:30 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 14. Baltazar will accept his house keys a short time later on the field of Memorial Stadium, before IU's football game against the University of Michigan.
More than 400 undergraduate and graduate students from about 15 Kelley and IU campus organizations will volunteer for the build, along with faculty, administrators and IU alumni, including those now working at Whirlpool.
After the 10-day blitz build, the house will be moved to South Rogers Street on Bloomington's south side.
"I never thought I would own a home here," Baltazar said, talking about his move from Acapulco, Mexico, to Bloomington. "It's a very good opportunity for me to be in my own house, have my own place here."
His original plan was to live with his uncle, work and send money home to help support his parents for a few years before returning to Mexico. But he grew to like Bloomington so much that he decided to make it his permanent home.
When he applied for the Habitat program, Baltazar was living in a dilapidated apartment with unsteady flooring and unsafe conditions outside. Friends who also became homeowners through Habitat told him about the build program.
Since being accepted, Baltazar has volunteered more than 230 hours on other Habitat homes and completed homeowner readiness courses. 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 -- something Baltazar will complete while working on his own home.
Through the long process, Baltazar's favorite part has been the morning circle before the builds, where individuals come together to reflect on what they will do that day. He is thankful to everyone involved -- Whirlpool, the IU students, faculty and other volunteers, and the crew leaders in particular.
"It's fitting that a community member who has spent the past two years helping build Habitat homes for others is now working to build his own house -- alongside a group of energetic, caring Kelley School students, faculty and staff," said IU Bloomington Provost and Executive Vice President Lauren Robel, a member of the Habitat board in Monroe County. "When our campus and community come together for projects like this, everyone benefits, and all participants gain a better understanding and appreciation for one another's unique attributes and challenges."
While other universities also are engaged in building homes with Habitat, the IU build was unique in 2010 and remains special because of its on-campus build location. This would not have happened without the support of the Whirlpool Corp. and its leadership.
An early supporter at Whirlpool was Jeff Fettig, a Kelley alumnus who will step down Oct. 1 as the company's CEO (though he remains the chairman of the board). As a retirement gift, more than 10 Habitat builds around the globe this year are being supported by Whirlpool in Fettig's honor, and those homes will be fully equipped with Whirlpool-brand appliances.
Others from Whirlpool participating in this year's IU build will include two other Kelley graduates -- Jim Peters, executive vice president and chief financial officer, and Chris Ball, global vice president of sales and operations at KitchenAid -- as well as Jim Keppler, vice president, integrated supply chain and quality.
Kelley School of Business Dean Idalene "Idie" Kesner said the popularity of this project among Kelley students illustrates how today's graduates are looking to work with compassionate companies that are mindful about their communities.
"Whirlpool is an excellent example of a company that strives to make a positive difference in communities around the globe through social and environmental responsibility, and we want our students to have that aspiration, as well," Kesner said. "We are so fortunate that our students not only get to see that model at work, but can participate in it and realize the benefits of working toward a greater good."
Peters said Whirlpool has been honored to work with IU, the Kelley School and many in the community to fulfill the dream of home ownership for Baltazar and others.
"Whirlpool Corp. has partnered with Habitat for Humanity for 18 years in over 45 countries around the world to help nearly 92,000 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 Baltazar family."
The IU build is one of many Whirlpool-sponsored Habitat builds taking place throughout the United States in 2017 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 $101 million in products to help new houses feel more like home.
Darryl Neher, incoming CEO of Habitat for Humanity of Monroe County, said Whirlpool Corp. is one of the organization's most appreciated and sustaining partners.
"Our annual build on the Indiana University campus continues to be a staff and volunteer favorite -- bringing together the amazing Bloomington and IU communities to accomplish a seemingly impossible feat," Neher said. "We are incredibly grateful to the hundreds of volunteers who will help to build Irving's future home, our friends at the Kelley School of Business and Indiana University, as well as Whirlpool Corp. The impact of this experience on those who participate will last far beyond the end of the blitz build."
Baltazar, who works as a server at a local Mexican restaurant, looks forward to someday welcoming his parents and siblings to his home, which will have a guest room and be painted his favorite color -- and a color many Hoosiers are fond of -- red.
Those working on the build from IU will include students in the Business Honors Program, Kelley Cares, the Kelley Living Learning Center and the Hutton Honors College.
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.