Stacey L. Dodd
Program director, Habitat for Humanity Ireland
Posted January 2007
What started as a volunteer activity in northern New York took Stacey Dodd, a 1986 PSE graduate, into a new career direction and half a world away.
Dodd is the program director for Habitat for Humanity Ireland. She is responsible for more than building houses - she builds communities.
She started as a volunteer in Beaver Falls, N.Y. by helping establish a Habitat for Humanity affiliate. She became active as a member of the board of directors and used her vacation time to build houses in other countries as part of the global village program.
"Often it's the fact that people have taken the time to build houses in a community that makes a greater impact than the house itself."
After experiences building house in Mexico, Alaska and Belfast, Dodd took a leave of absence from the paper industry to serve as a long-term volunteer in Belfast. At the end of three years, Habitat offered her a permanent position.
Dodd's job centers on community development, regional project development and education.
Working in Northern Ireland, where the conflict between Catholics and protestants affects all aspects of every day life, presents numerous challenges. While the neighborhood that Habitat builds in Northern Ireland are either Protestant or Catholic, the volunteers come from both communities.
"Habitat provides a neutral zone in a particular area or community. In the midst of all that conflict, it's amazing to see the friendships that develop.
"We dedicated the first house in Protestant Northern Belfast and everybody was there - the homeowners and volunteers from both communities, Catholic and Protestant. Just being able to see the kids run and play is rewarding. The whole time their community is being built they will be surrounded by diversity and hopefully their view will be altered."
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