Habitat for Humanity: Earning Credit and Creating Art for a Cause


Pictured above: Planter, sculptures, and student wordworks from the workshop. (Photo courtesy of Lily Gyles)

For the 2nd Workshop series of the year in the Kettle Moraine School for Arts and Performance (KM Perform), Art Focus mentor Mr. Keefe decided to host a class for a cause, a class partnering with Habitat for Humanity. Mr. Keefe tries to take every opportunity possible to work with outside charitable organizations, so he jumped at the chance to make this happen. Students are working with leftover art materials from large school projects like Rube Goldberg, items that they found in the trash or campus lost and found, or items from home. Even though the class only runs for two weeks, students are creating some amazing art by just gluing things together! The end goal is to make things for Habitats for Humanities to sell in their gift shop as trinkets, as well as to make housewarming gifts for the new families receiving houses. When asked about why he chose to host the class he said, “It just seemed like a no brainer.”

Mr. Keefe said, “Habitat for Humanity is [a] class organization that does great work within the community. I wanted to create a desire within KM Perform for volunteerism. When everyone hears the word ‘volunteer’ they always groan and think, ‘oh, all that effort…grumble, grumble, grumble.’ But when they actually go out into the community and do it, they find it is usually fun, full of meeting new people they might not otherwise mix with, and very rewarding.”

The class mainly consists of Art Focus students, but there are credit opportunities for everyone. Mr. Keefe says that the students can earn Art Foundations, Design for non-art focus, Career Studies, and possible Leadership Studies. For upperclassmen, there are internships and opportunities for Humanities and Volunteerism. When asked about his intentions with the class, Mr. Keefe says, “The biggest takeaway would be the ability to work with a client and create a professional looking product that they were happy with.” He adds, “Ultimately, it would be nice to be able to teach kids how to use the tools in the wood and metal shop… It has turned out to be a bit of an exercise in flexibility, but it has given us an idea of what it will take to get a smooth process going.” Sophomore Art Focus Amber Wendelburger says, “My end goal for this class is to gain more knowledge as to how nonprofit organizations work as well as having more of a connection with our community.” 

The idea to partner with charitable organizations actually began during Art Focus Advisory before Mr. Keefe had the idea to turn it into a class. His goal is to end up building houses, internship opportunities, and working with them long term, similar to how KM Perform works with Old World Wisconsin to put on the Legends and Lore event in the fall. He says, “A couple of teachers, myself, and Ms. Kaminski met with two representatives from Habitat for Humanity, [and] it opened my eyes to what could be done… they had a whole host of other creative endeavors which KM Perform’s talents might be good for.” 

Students have been gaining a lot of credit from the class and some plan on taking on internships and other partnerings outside of school to continue the work with the organization. Habitat for Humanity, as well as other charitable group projects, will be available to participate in for those interested in Art Focus advisory. Look for more of these types of classes in the future from Mr. Keefe!