Youth Leadership Conference 2013: Habitat youth come together, solve ‘constructive discontent’

AMERICUS, Ga. (Nov. 1, 2013) – Habitat for Humanity International’s Youth Programs welcomed nearly 300 youth leaders and volunteers to Washington, D.C., for the eighth annual Youth Leadership Conference Nov. 1-3.

During the three-day conference, youth leaders and volunteers will celebrate this past year’s accomplishments in creating simple, decent, affordable housing in partnership with low-income families.

This year’s theme, “Constructive Discontent,” recognizes the tension of “what is” and “what should be” as young people work with Habitat in an effort to end poverty housing.

“We’re discontented by living in a world where people live in unsafe homes that don’t offer basic shelter,” said Rebecca McWhorter, manager of volunteer operations at Habitat for Humanity International. “We want to live in a world where everyone has a decent place to live. It’s why we build.”

Throughout the weekend, participants will also work to support nonprofit ministry SOME (So Others Might Eat). Participants will bring toiletries and winter clothing and put together about 300 donation bags to give out to the homeless in the Washington, D.C., area. This is the first time participants have organized a service project as part of the Youth Leadership Conference.

“This collection drive is a direct expression of our youth volunteers’ passion for making the world a better place for all,” said McWhorter. “We are excited to put the tools they are receiving at this year’s conference into practice in partnership with SOME.”

This year’s keynotes include AmeriCorps alumni and young people who are making an impact in their communities through sustained service. Simone and Jake Bernstein, founders of VolunTeen Nation, will give the Saturday night keynote. The Bernsteins founded the volunteer database website as teenagers when they found limited volunteer options for themselves. As college students, the Bernsteins message showcases the opportunities that can come out of constructive discontent.

State Farm representative and long-time partner of Habitat for Humanity, Heather Paul, will also be on hand to recognize young people’s service. In the past year, State Farm has matched more than 200,000 in grants to serve Habitat affiliates through youth service, including 100,000 in grants to service areas affected by natural disasters. State Farm has been the underwriter of Habitat’s Youth Programs since 2007.

Fellow speakers also include Service Nation Executive Director Zach Maurin, AmeriCorps alumni Regina Best and Mandy Elm McCulley and Justin Gerstner, former University of Wisconsin-Madison campus chapter member and vice chair of Habitat for Humanity of Dane County in Madison, Wisconsin.

Habitat for Humanity International youth initiatives seek to mobilize passionate young people so that future generations won’t have to know poverty housing. By promoting lifelong service, Habitat empowers youth leaders through campus chapters, Collegiate Challenge, Learn and Build Experience, Habitat Young Professionals, AmeriCorps Alumni Association, Youth United and other service-learning partnerships.

About Habitat for Humanity International
Habitat for Humanity International’s vision is a world where everyone has a decent place to live. Anchored by the conviction that safe and affordable housing provides a critical foundation for breaking the cycle of poverty, Habitat has helped more than 3 million people construct, rehabilitate or preserve homes since 1976. Habitat also advocates for fair and just housing policies and provides training and access to resources to help more families improve their shelter conditions. As a nonprofit Christian housing organization, Habitat works in more than 70 countries and welcomes people of all races, religions and nationalities to partner in its mission. To get more information, to donate or to volunteer, please visit

About State Farm
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