Today I participated in a unique volunteering opportunity. I joined Sarah Petschonek, the founder of Volunteer Odyssey, along with several others at Habit for Humanity of Greater Memphis. Volunteer Odyssey organizes a group of volunteers for a fun, monthly function, called VolunCheers. This group got momentum last December as a way for busy working professionals to take a tour of non-profits in a way that fits their busy schedules.
As most of you know, Habitat helps people attain home ownership. But that’s not where it ends! Each family has to commit to help build their home through “sweat-equity”, learn how to reduce their debt-to-income ratio, and become financially stable.
My first thought about Habitat for Humanity was fear: I cannot build anything by hand! Really not even in my imagination or wildest dreams! After getting there I learned that I’d be using my brain instead of my brawn. I participated in a round table discussion and brainstorming session on how Habitat could improve their services and attract more volunteers. One of the suggestions that came out of the meeting was to offer classes on basic home maintenance and upkeep, such as plumbing, power tools, etc. This would be educational for both potential volunteers and the Habitat families building their new homes. Another idea was to make it clear to the public that not all volunteer opportunities involve construction, so potential volunteers who might be intimidated by that aspect of the program would know they could put other skills to use for this great nonprofit.
It was a great learning experience and I got to meet some awesome volunteers. I love meeting new people and learning about how and where they serve the community. I also learned about Habitat for Humanity’s Resale Store. It’s an enormous store that takes donations of furniture and other household items. The items are resold to the public, and the money goes into building the homes for families. From what I could tell, they had really nice merchandise – you can check out some of what’s for sale on their website. I will definitely be going there to shop!
Lesson learned today: you do not have to be a builder, a tile layer, or a plumber to participate and help at Habitat for Humanity. You just need a willing heart and a little time to spare.
This non-profit organization depends largely on volunteers and donations. Without volunteers, the services they offer would be impossible. To take in a family of four and provide for their needs is costly. I hope you will go to their website and consider volunteering!
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