The Build a Miracle club at Bishop’s School in La Jolla has had quite the year. He built three houses in Tijuana and raised $6,000 to donate computers to a community center there.
But it is not finished. The club – an offshoot of San Diego-based multinational organization Build a Miracle – is working through the end of the school year, having spent the weekend of May 7 on site for one of three visits needed to build a fourth house.
“The main goal of the club is to raise funds for the needy people of Tijuana and build homes for them, but also to raise awareness of the bubble we live in in La Jolla,” said this year’s president, the second Leia Ryan.
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The club’s public relations coordinator, second Grace Dabir, said the community center associated with Build a Miracle “offers classes and a safe place to study, a computer lab, dance lessons and food for the children. after school. They have programs for the families that go. They have the Dads Club, where dads learn carpentry and other life skills to help enrich the community.
Since 1999, BAM – which was officially established as a nonprofit in 2001 – has built 430 homes and its educational services have produced 18 college graduates, according to its website, buildamiracle.net.
It costs a maximum of around $16,000 to build and furnish a three-bedroom house. Students fundraise with in-person events, a GoFundMe account, and outreach to parents in the community.
“We held a household items drive to provide furniture,” Leia said. “We would normally raise funds for this furniture…but people have been so generous that we have been able to fill an entire house without buying anything but a curtain rod.”
Usually the club builds one house a year, but this year they were able to build more.
“At the end of last year we … raised enough for a house then. And this year a donor agreed to match the donations we raised. So we raised enough for a second house, and matching funds provided a third home,” Leia said.
“It’s so wonderful to see in the eyes of the families the impact this is having on the community.”
Once the club has collected enough to complete a house, it begins the building process. It takes three visits to complete a house. The first is to lay the foundation, the second is to install the insulation and drywall, and the third is to furnish and paint.
“We just finished our third house… in April, and we started our fourth house” after another fundraiser, Grace said.
Families who have already had a house built through BAM often help club members with the construction process. In return for securing housing, all families are asked to complete 500 hours of community service and enroll their children in school, according to BAM.
“When we come back and work on a new house, we see the people we built the last house for, and it’s amazing how quickly their lives are improving,” Leia said. “You really feel the community.”
Leia and Grace said the experience was rewarding and humbling.
Leia said it was also eye-opening to see the disparity between her community and poverty about 30 miles away.
“We have these million dollar homes and a beautiful school,” she said. “The houses there are built from recycled materials; they are neither safe nor hygienic, they do not protect people from the elements.
Bishop’s, however, “is very service-oriented,” and the school community is always ready to step in to help, Grace said.
“We can say, as a school community, [that] we build houses and provide computers for those kids who are really talented and smart but don’t have the resources to develop that talent,” Grace said. “The experience fills my heart. It’s so wonderful to see in the eyes of the families the impact this has on the community. The whole experience just teaches you to be super grateful and puts what we have in La Jolla into perspective. We are so lucky to have what we have. It’s very humiliating. ◆