While it’s easy to get discouraged about the dire need of affordable housing in our community, it’s also surprisingly easy to volunteer and make a difference.
Habitat for Humanity Peninsula and Greater Williamsburg needs extra hands to support its mission of building homes, communities and hope.
“Volunteers are the lifeblood of this organization,” said Janet V. Green, CEO of the local affiliate to the international nonprofit.
Volunteers are needed on construction sites, where homes that are later sold to qualifying families under Habitat’s first-time Homebuyer Program are built.
Don’t be intimidated if you can’t imagine yourself swinging a hammer, said Dava Warner, Community Engagement Manager for Habitat for Humanity Peninsula and Greater Williamsburg.
“Even if you’ve only seen a hammer in a store, you can still volunteer,” she said. “No experience is needed.”
A professional construction crew is always onsite and patient about not only explaining what needs to be done, but answering questions, too. If you’re not comfortable with power tools, you can be assigned to do something that doesn’t require one. All of the homes have landscaping needs. Priming and painting needs to be done, too.
“If you don’t want to be on a ladder, you don’t have to,” Warner said. “We want all of our volunteers to be comfortable with what they’re doing.”
Minors 16 and older with a signed waiver are welcome. Habitat does ask that volunteers arrive by 8:30 a.m. at site builds, but if a volunteer needs to leave before the crew finishes around 3 p.m., that’s not a problem.
Everything is provided for volunteers, but if you have your own toolbelt, safety glasses and gloves, it’s helpful to bring those.
“A lot of times you’ll be working alongside the family members who are going to be buying that home, and that’s rewarding,” Warner said. “Just by being here and contributing your time, you’re helping a family achieve home ownership that otherwise wouldn’t see that dream come true.”
For those not keen about volunteering outdoors, the Newport News and Williamsburg ReStores are also in need of volunteers in several areas.
The Williamsburg ReStore is inundated with holiday items and looking for volunteers to help with processing those in an effort to create a permanent holiday aisle that will also free up more space for inventory. Volunteers ensure everything is in good working order — for example, do all the bulbs work on that light up Santa that’s been donated? Everything is cleaned and priced before it is displayed on the floor.
“It’s going to get crazy the closer we get to Christmas,” said Kelcey Moeller, Volunteer Coordinator at the Williamsburg ReStore. “We want to make sure the floor stays stocked.”
Volunteers are also needed to test everything from coffee pots to power tools, Moeller said.
Gary McFadden, Volunteer Coordinator and Assistant Manager at the Newport News ReStore, would love to have volunteers willing to test appliances and work in the lighting areas to perform testing and help with merchandising.
McFadden said the Newport News ReStore would also benefit from volunteers who would enjoy setting up display areas — vignette rooms that incorporate furniture and accessories. Help is also needed sorting and folding linens.
“Even if you have an hour here or there or two hours a day, that would be a great help,” he said.
Volunteers at both ReStores enjoy a friendly and flexible environment. Senior volunteers serve as mentors to the newer volunteers.
Volunteers set their own hours and build their own schedule. The ReStore staff also holds several appreciation events for volunteers, who have their own break room with snacks, water and coffee, a fridge and a microwave.
When you volunteer at a site build or at the ReStore, you are making a difference in the housing affordability crisis. Being an extra set of hands at a site build helps keep construction on schedule. You’re helping a family move closer to the dream of home ownership.
All ReStore proceeds benefit constructing more Habitat houses in the local community. Moving inventory faster and more efficiently helps ReStore sales.
Even a few hours a week makes a difference.
If you’re interested in volunteering on a site build, contact Warner at 757-913-5654 or at email@example.com.
If you’re interested in volunteering at the Newport News ReStore, contact McFadden at 757-913-5666 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you’re interested in volunteering at the Williamsburg ReStore, contact Moeller at 757-913-5652 or email@example.com.
Learn more about all the ways Habitat for Humanity Peninsula and Greater Williamsburg can use the support of the community here.
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