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Volunteering with Habitat for Humanity

by Peter Jonnes

On Saturday August 18th, FortuneBuilders, CT Homes and Realty National team members volunteered at the San Diego Habitat for Humanity build site. Fifteen volunteers participated in a company sponsored build day; installing soffits, trimming windows, running ventilation, waterproofing and securing roof posts just to name a few tasks. Volunteers of all skill levels participated and everyone was given the opportunity to learn how to use everything from power tools to materials.

The build site was a single lot, which had been zoned to accommodate four single-family homes and a courtyard area in the middle. We arrived at 8:15am to a well-organized construction site and met the Habitat site superintendent, Dana. He welcomed us and gave our group a brief introduction to the site, safety information and the list of work that we would be performing that day. At the conclusion of the introduction we were given the opportunity to volunteer for a job. We broke into our groups and each group had a member of Habitat for Humanity lead us to our work areas and instruct us on what we would be doing, which tools we needed and how we would use them.

It was physical work but it was incredibly gratifying to be involved in such an amazing cause. Habitat for Humanity is extremely well structured and they utilize a very efficient system for welcoming volunteers of all levels, organizing groups for different tasks, and instructing those groups; all while maintaining a safe and fun environment.

During our lunch break we had the opportunity to talk to the Habitat for Humanity team. We learned about how they get the land, how homeowners are selected and how they are able to leverage volunteers, donations and their systems to continually build homes for those in need. The entire process is incredibly effective and beneficial to everyone; from securing the land to turning the keys of a new home over to a deserving family. The banks donate uninhabitable homes or unused land and get bad property off their books as well as get the loan when the house is completed. Communities benefit from nice new homes replacing unsightly or unsafe homes and underprivileged families get a home with an interest-free mortgage to live in.

The selection process is very thorough where eligible families must meet strict criteria and maintain their financial and personal commitments for the duration of the build. Once selected, each family member must perform 250 hours of volunteer work with Habitat. This is a great requirement because it gives the new homeowners a sense of pride and ownership, putting in “sweat equity” both in their own house and helping on other houses.

One of the highlights was working with the daughter of one of the chosen families. She was in her early teens and was excited to be at the construction site, helping along side our team. She loved being up high so she spent the day on the roof and scaffolding surrounding the houses helping with the installation of soffits. Her youthful exuberance was infectious and the experience will stay with her, the spirit of volunteering, giving back, and an appreciation of the hard work required building a home. The whole experience was priceless and the FortuneBuilders team will be volunteering with Habitat for Humanity again.

About Habitat

Habitat for Humanity is an international organization with local affiliates all over the country. You can volunteer as an individual or get a group or company involved with opportunities available at all levels. Go to http://www.habitat.org/cd/local/default.aspx to find a local affiliate and get involved. You won’t regret it.

Special thanks to San Diego Habitat for Humanity and Ellen Immergut for letting us volunteer and sponsor a build day. If you would like to volunteer or donate to San Diego Habitat for Humanity visit http://www.sdhfh.org/Donate.aspx

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