Photo by Todd Gottula
Softball player Kenzie Helmink of Fairbury paints a storage shed.
They replaced their ball gloves with paint brushes, hammers and drills.
Twenty-two members of the University of Nebraska at Kearney softball team gathered in southeast Kearney the past two weekends to work on the three latest Habitat for Humanity homes under construction.
“Team bonding with paint,” senior Bailey Backhuus of Bennington said as she painted walls of a storage shed with three of her teammates.
Loper softball players also hung drywall, helped with finish work, framed walls, installed siding and completed landscaping projects and other jobs. They helped organize and clean the Kearney Area Habitat for Humanity’s local warehouse.
“Anything we do outside of softball always helps with team chemistry. It’s always cool when we can bond away from the game, but this is about giving back to our community,” said Sarah Rome, a senior infielder from Blair. “We have a lot of good girls on this team, and getting everybody to buy in was easy.”
Habitat for Humanity relies entirely on volunteers to renovate and build affordable homes for families in need. Brittnie Kreiser, a senior from Council Bluffs, helped spearhead the community service project.
“We’re grateful for the team’s willingness to help and thrilled to see them take time out of their busy schedules to give back,” said Brandon Benitz, president of Kearney Area Habitat for Humanity Board of Directors. “They bring a lot of energy and great enthusiasm to the job sites.
The softball team and coach Holly Carnes worked alongside other Habitat volunteers.
“It’s a great organization that does so much good for families,” said Kenzie Helmink, a junior from Fairbury. “We all jumped at the chance to give back and do something nice for people. We’re having a lot of fun.”
All of the Loper softball players fit one of Habitat’s key mottos, Benitz said.
“We often say you don’t need construction skills to do this. A willing heart and two willing hands is all we ask. We got that and more with this group of young women.”