Andover Townsman, Andover, MA

January 2, 2014

AHS grad to pedal cross-country for affordable housing


The Andover Townsman

---- — As people around the globe make their new year’s resolutions, one Andover High School graduate is aspiring to build homes for those in need by riding a bike.

Kirstin Heinrich, who is pursuing her Master in Public Health from Columbia University in New York, will be embarking on a cross-country bike ride this summer as part of Bike & Build, a venture of Habitat for Humanity.

The 23-year-old will be pedaling more than 4,000 miles over the course of 79 days in hopes of raising $4,500 toward the effort, according to her webpage

“Lacking affordable housing is a root cause of many symptomatic problems including, but certainly not limited to, poverty, homelessness, low mental and physical health, lack of health insurance, and un- or under-employment,” the 2008 AHS graduate says online. “By focusing on this chronic, underlying problem, Bike & Build is impacting all of these outcomes.”

Through Bike & Build, participants have raised more than $4.5 million, built homes for more than 160,000 hours and pedaled more than 7.5 million miles over the past 10 seasons.

Heinrich is excited about joining the effort in May upon completion of her master’s degree. She will depart May 16 from Jacksonville, Fla., and will spend the next 21/2 months traveling across southern U.S. before ending the journey Aug. 2 in Monterey, Calif. Along the way, there will be stops in New Orleans for a five-day build and visits to the Grand Canyon, Zion National Park in Utah, through Yosemite and over the Golden Gate Bridge into California.

She says she is looking forward to combining her love for travel with a cause that “unfortunately touches every part of the world.” As an undergraduate at Tulane University in New Orleans, where she studied public health before graduating in 2012, Heinrich says she saw the need that exists here in the U.S.

“As the world undergoes globalization and urbanization, there is greater focus on the immense needs of developing nations; however, having lived in New Orleans post-Katrina, I see that we cannot forget that many of these needs exist within our own country as well,” she writes.

“As our country shifts from treating problems to preventing them, particularly with health care, what could be more preventive than ensuring affordable shelter is secured for all Americans, especially in the context of population health?”

To learn more about Heinrich’s involvement with Bike & Build and to donate to her effort, visit http://bikeandbuild.org/rider/7197.