Breanna Kinnett: Building Homes and Hope

Name: Breanna Kinnett

Year: Junior

Hometown: Daytona Beach, FL

Major: Spanish


Her Campus (HC): You're the president of the FSU Habitat for Humanity chapter. Can you tell me what you do as an organization?

Breanna Kinnett (BK): The FSU chapter of Habitat for Humanity focuses on providing one house for a family in Tallahassee every year. The majority of our fall semester is focused on fundraising and advocating, and in the spring we spend the entire semester building a house alongside the family. We present it to them at the end of the semester.

HC: Does this goal differ from the national Habitat for Humanity?

BK: We all have the goal of eliminating substandard housing. Ours is just more local.

HC: Why did you choose to get involved with Habitat?

BK: I went to the involvement fair my freshman year and had no idea what I wanted to get involved in. But I spoke to the president at the time and she told me about the club. I really liked that you get to work alongside the family and that you actually get to produce the house. Most organizations I find focus on fundraising money and donating it, but I like the hands on aspect of it. At the end of the day, the people [we collaborate with] will be getting the result of all the hard work our organization put into it.

HC: How does the building aspect work? Can I still be a member if I don't know anything about construction?

BK: Habitat of Big Bend is our local affiliate and they provide contractors and people who are specialized in different areas of house building. They come in and work as the expert, FSU Habitat along with other Tallahassee organizations provides the manpower. They explain how we are going to do everything. If you're not comfortable [with a task] they find something else for you to do. The first time I worked on a roof I was terrified because I'm afraid of heights, but they allowed me to ease my way into it. It doesn't depend on having any prior knowledge on how to build a house; they teach you and are always there to help.

 Courtesy: Habitat For Humanity at FSU

HC: What makes Habitat unique from all the other organizations on campus?

BK: We are unique in how many opportunities we give to volunteer. We offer a lot of activities throughout the year- advocacy, fundraising, public relations and various aspects. We also give opportunities to give back in the community. We repair existing homes, landscape, anything to help a previous Habitat owner maintain the property. You go out and do something. It's not just staying on campus or just advocating. You get to have the experience of building a house and seeing the progress step by step.

HC: You need a lot of money to build a home; does the Habitat chapter have to fund it all?

BK: Working towards paying for an entire house has been a goal of FSU Habitat and we're getting closer every year. We donate $40,000 every year and we do that through both fundraising and grants. That [money] gets combined with another organization's that we partner with to fund the house. The builds are split amongst everyone who contributed. So we not only work alongside Habitat but with other organizations as well.

 Courtesy: Habitat for Humanity at FSU

HC: You became president as a junior, and with only one year of executive experience in the organization.  How is that going?

BK: I think it was a little nerve-wracking at first; I was overwhelmed. But I have an amazing executive board to work with, and I know they all have different talents to bring to the table. I haven't had any issues that I thought might come up because I have a lot of support. With 13 members, we have a uniquely large executive board. There are a lot of outlets and help. We also have an amazing faculty advisor that has been helping me every step of the way, and past presidents have reached out to help with any issues I have.

HC: You take part in a lot of activities on campus that are time consuming. How do you balance it all?

BK: I don't take things on [if] I know I can't give 100%. Of course, there are times that I go to bed later than I would like to or I dedicate more time to Habitat that I could be using for homework. But I feel like because I'm so passionate, I am willing to make it work. I haven't had an issue with prioritization or time management, but it is definitely challenging to manage it all. Luckily I have a great VP in Habitat and good friends; they all help bring it together for me.

 Courtesy: Habitat for Humanity at FSU

HC: If you could go back and give your freshman year self any advice, what would it be?

BK: I would try to be a little bit more outgoing. I have a great group of friends now, but I wish I had taken opportunities that the University presents to incoming freshman. I would have gone to more socials that allow you to meet people. I think that's really important, having diverse friends in your life.

HC: You always seem to be on the go. What do you like to do in your downtime?

BK: I'm a coffee connoisseur. I love coffee shops, so it's really exciting for me to try new places in the Tallahassee area. Luckily I have a lot of friends who also really like coffee so we try to find a new place to go to each month.

HC: For anyone interested in Habitat, what is the best way to get involved?

BK: We're out at Market Wednesday every week, but the best way is to attend our meetings. We always welcome new people, and encourage [students] coming out and hearing our cause, to see if it is something they are willing to donate their time to. We also have an email system to keep people informed of the activities so it's very easy to get involved. We have a lot of different opportunities for different people.

Habitat for Humanity FSU meets every Monday at 6 pm in Dunlap 2201. You can find more information at the Habitat for Humanity Facebook Page.