Sophomore Abigail Henderson received the Habitat on the Hill Emerging Leader national scholarship
Abigail Henderson, a sophomore at CNU, recently received the Habitat on the Hill Emerging Leader national scholarship, provided by State Farm for Habitat for Humanity International. The scholarship includes the opportunity to attend Habitat on the Hill.
“Habitat on the Hill is Habitat for Humanity International’s legislation conference where experts share on how to advocate for affordable housing legislation in DC,” Henderson said. “The scholarship covers hotel stay at the Omni Shoreham Hotel in Washington DC, full conference fees, and transportation. I will be talking to our Virginia representatives about supporting affordable housing legislation.”
Habitat for Humanity has been a cause close to Henderson’s heart for years. She first became involved with the organization in June 2015 when she was a sophomore attending Sherando High School in her hometown of Winchester, Va.
“I really wanted to get involved in the community, [but I] didn’t know where I wanted to go and what I wanted to do exactly,” she said. “One of my mom’s friends said, ‘Hey Abigail, why don’t you go to Habitat? They’re always looking for people.’ And so I did!”
Her first experience working with Habitat took her into a part of town that was “a little bit dangerous, but it was a really good experience to step out of my comfort zone and work on a house build.” Building houses for the less fortunate is Habitat for Humanity’s main method of service. “That was one of the most incredible experiences and it’s such a vivid memory to this day for me,” she said.
Throughout high school, she used her leadership positions in the National Honor Society to encourage students to utilize opportunities for community service through Habitat for Humanity. As an officer and eventually president of NHS, she encouraged more clubs to become involved with Habitat and encouraged her school as a whole to help make a difference. After graduation as she went on to college, that goal only intensified.
“I knew coming to CNU my freshman year that I did not want this organization to exit my life,” Henderson said “[That fall] I applied for the president position [of CNU’s chapter of Habitat for Humanity] and I got it and I was very thankful. At the end of that year, we received the most outstanding community outreach award on campus and that was really something special.”
Starting her work with Blue Ridge Habitat for Humanity, Henderson has continued her service in Hampton Roads with Habitat for Humanity Peninsula and Greater Williamsburg.
Throughout her work with Habitat, Henderson has had the chance to truly see the impact of what Habitat does. She has worked to build a house for a family of Syrian refugees, led hundreds of volunteers in her hometown, and received the most outstanding emerging leader of the year award at CNU.
And soon, Habitat on the Hill will provide her with a platform to continue advocating for the work that Habitat for Humanity does.
“It’s an incredible opportunity to be able to talk with the legislators, and policy makers and people from all over the country whether they’re students, full-time staff, or homeowners,” she said. “Being able to collaborate with them and lean about these issues is exactly what this conference is.” She also was able to see the partner families be selected for this year who will be eligible to receive housing through Habitat. “We saw the demographics in our area, and we will now be able to advocate for them on Capitol Hill.”
Henderson encourages others to volunteer and get involved with Habitat for Humanity, an organization that has given so much to her as well as those in need.
“Other students can get involved by stopping by our table at Club Fair to get more information, and come to the first meeting as well,” she said. “Volunteer in the Habitat for Humanity Newport News ReStore, on a home build, or even help out our committees that work directly with the Habitat affiliate.”
Henderson’s commitment to Habitat has made her stand out as a perfect choice to receive the Habitat on the Hill Emerging Leader national scholarship.