National Volunteer Week 2020

Every single volunteer makes a difference. It is their participation and support that enables Habitat to help more families build and improve places to call home. We’re so thankful for their efforts, and for believing in what we do.

During the past few weeks, we’ve asked Habitat Volunteers to share a little bit about themselves and what volunteering with Habitat means to them.

A special thanks to all who participated! Please see the responses below.

Judy shares her reasons:

The reason for my interest in volunteering is two-fold. While working in one of the London Housing complexes, one of the families in the complex qualified for a Habitat home. They then invited me to the dedication of their new home and I saw first-hand how Habitat impacted the family, empowering them to move up out of London Housing. Then sometime later a number of homes were being built in my own neighbourhood on Forbes Street so I was eager to get involved helping. Unfortunately, a serious ankle injury resulting from a ski lift accident prohibits me from wearing hard-toed shoes anymore, which has disqualified me from job sites. 

Three things I like most about my involvement:

  1. Camaraderie among volunteers and staff
  2. The satisfaction of helping someone succeed
  3. Using my skills in a wider horizon

One thing you likely don’t know about me is that I worked overseas among refugees for over 20 years. 

Gary shares his reasons:

As a Habitat home owner, volunteering with Habitat for Humanity Heartland provides me with an opportunity to help others and to give back to a wonderful organization which has done so much for my family.

Volunteering with Habitat helps me to connect with some pretty amazing people who share a common interest to help others and to contribute to our community.

One thing which Habitat does not know about me is that I love gardening.  I am not really very knowledgeable about gardening, but I do enjoy planting flowers and vegetables and maintaining our yard.  As a Habitat home owner I find that there is something uniquely special and rewarding about this.

Khushbu shares her reasons:

Volunteering with Habitat is my getaway from the standard college routine, and helping me network with similar people in the industry I’m currently studying. I’ve met a lot of wonderful people at the ReStore, supporting the office renovations and on the Deconstruction and Salvage Crew. I really hope to stay in touch with everyone and be a part of this great cause that Habitat supports!

Working with tools is something I really love! I love fixing, assembling, or even dismantling things. I’ve had a wonderful time all this while at Habitat and look forward to much more once it is safe to come back.

Hato shares his reasons:

I knew about the Habitat ReStore in Woodstock from donating many materials from my own home renovation projects as well as discontinued materials like carpet from my work. One time I was at the ReStore and a friend of mine mentioned that they could use volunteers like me, so I decided to help out now that I have retired.

I help with stocking, pricing, shipping and receiving, and maintaining the computer records for the Woodstock ReStore two days a week.

I enjoy the people aspect of the work: getting to help and talk to customers, and the friendly staff and volunteers I work with. I also really like getting to use my career experience—working with computers and in shipping and receiving—to give back to my community. Finally, I like that there are a variety of ways to help. If there is something to be done at the store, even if it’s just sweeping the floor, I want to do it so that I am always contributing during my scheduled time there.

I was scheduled to begin a new computer course at Fanshawe to improve my computer knowledge even further just as COVID-19 occurred so I didn’t even get to start, unfortunately. Hopefully everything will slowly get better and return to normal soon.

Carolina shares her reasons:

My main reason for volunteering was to practice my English, since I’ve only been in Canada for 2 years. My ESL teacher says volunteering is a good way to practice your English. After joining the Adelaide ReStore, I discovered how much I like the people and the tasks I support. 

The environment is very positive. All the staff are incredible, friendly, and in my case they have been very patient because I am still learning English. The interaction with the staff and customers has increased my confidence because my fear of talking with people lessens with practice. I choose to stay to support Habitat’s mission and its role to help provide housing to families in need.

One thing I don’t think Habitat knows about me is that I know a lot about construction because I am an architect and I believe that is one more reason why I like to volunteer at Habitat. I learn new things every day when I am in the ReStore. Every volunteering day is amazing!!!

Amber shares her reasons:

The reason for my interest in volunteering with Habitat for Humanity was to be able to help others in the community, to pay it forward. I enjoy seeing the smiles on customers’ faces when they find their perfect item. They help the environment by recycling the old and make it new. One person’s junk is another person’s gold!

I currently volunteer at the Stratford ReStore. Volunteering has helped me see my abilities rather than disabilities. I’ve made many new memories with the kind workers from Habitat. I am very grateful for the experience; it means a lot to me to be able to help my community.

Something Habitat doesn’t know about me is that I am studying to be a pastor. 

Andrea shares her reasons:

I am currently a volunteer on the Deconstruction and Salvage Crew. Working on the team has been a great experience for me and my daughter Haylie. With the Salvage Crews encouragement, I’ve decided to go into plumbing and applied for school last September. 

My daughter, Haylie is also a volunteer and has chosen the field of Civil Engineering after working with the same crew! We both love it. We have had to put our volunteering on hold while in school, but hope to be back as soon as this health issue in the world lifts. 

Our favourite thing about volunteering with Habitat Heartland is working with such a great crew. We always learn something new and the volunteers and staff members encourage and guide us to step out of our comfort zones. They explain why we do things the way we do and how it works. Safety is highlighted in everything they do, and they speak on how important it is, and to never take it for granted.

My personal favourite is removing kitchens; it is always exciting when the owners take the time to show us their dreams for their house! Haylie loves using the equipment/tools and demolition day! Her favourite job was the old farm house we removed windows and doors from and seeing how the old homes were built so different from today. It is always a nice bonding moment when we get to work together.

A few of our volunteers wanted to share their reasons for choosing to volunteer with Habitat.

Charlie shares his reasons:

I first heard about Habitat one day in a coffee shop with a new group of guys I meet when I retired. They were talking of the impending first build in St Thomas and how Habitat helps people with finding a safe place to raise their families. I was curious and further looked into it as soon as I got home. I was hooked! The foundation was in and the floor had already been completed when I arrived on site. I meet The Construction Manager that first day and the rest is history.

There are many things that I like about Habitat. Knowing that a family was going to make a safe and happy home, gave me the best feeling in the world. Each day brought us closer to making a dream come true. Once the home was completed, attending the Key Ceremony with other volunteers who worked on the site was amazing. 

Meeting and working with other people from my community was very rewarding to say the least. Each and every day brought new achievements for our efforts. Sharing stories, coffee, lunch and knowledge made us appreciate one another even more. I also appreciated seeing how the local companies who donated, where thankful they had the opportunity to do so. 

Something you don’t know about me is that I’m a Life Saving Specialist with the Canadian Blood Services. I donate platelets at the permanent clinic in London. The process takes about an hour and a half in total. Most of this product is used for cancer and serious trauma patients. My last donation was my 108 time.

Art: Habitat is my outlet. It lets me share the skills I have learned throughout my life. While I am able to share these skills with other volunteers and Habitat staff, I support their woodshop and bring new life to items, thus diverting materials from the landfill. Much of what Habitat does is important to me.

Zamika: I choose to do my co-op in a place that not only gives me a lot of great experience in administration, but also makes me feel good about myself and contributes to the community as well.

Peggy Anne: Habitat just seems like such a wonderful program to help out people with home ownership. It feels good to be part of such an undertaking and all the people (staff + volunteers) are like-minded. They just want to help others. The smiles on the recipient families’ faces make it all worthwhile when the house and the keys are turned over to them and they can start a new phase in their lives with a little less struggle.

Devin: I started volunteering to make videos with Habitat in order to give back to my community. Professional careers are becoming more competitive and being able to show that I help out is also a big plus. I also love making videos as a hobby and figured that I could use my skills to make a difference while having fun! I believe that Habitat is an excellent program that makes a real and measurable difference in the lives of local, deserving people.

Zach: I choose to volunteer with Habitat because I believe everyone should have the basic necessity of shelter and Habitat for Humanity creates affordable housing for families in need. I am proud to be a part of an organization with these core values. I have always been passionate about marketing and videography so being able to create meaningful content within an organization with these core values is very rewarding.

Wendy: When I retired four years ago I was very isolated living alone so I signed up to volunteer at a ReStore in Toronto. Very quickly on my two shifts a week I was made to feel so welcome by the ReStore staff and other volunteers that they became close friends. The three things that became important were the friendships, the satisfaction I got from pricing items and interacting with customers on cash while also feeling competent at pricing donations to place on the floor. What might be surprising is that I am a former science writer and have written fiction for 30 years even though I never succeeded at getting officially published. I do have my latest book available for free on a global writing site called Wattpad. The book is called Bertie’s Meaning of Life.