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Corporate volunteers catch the Habitat bug

Corporations have supported Habitat’s 200,000th build with more than money. They have donated manpower—and womanpower—as well.

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Citigroup volunteers Laura Kirschenmann (left) and Cheryl McFarland (right) work together to cut strips of aluminum.

Many of the corporate volunteers this week are building with Habitat for the first time. Citigroup has provided 16 local volunteers, each of whom get the chance to build for one day. Coworkers Cheryl McFarland and Laura Kirschenmann had never been on a construction site before, but after just a few hours of work they proudly named their unexpected new skills.

”I’d used a hammer before,” Kirschenmann says. “But I’d never put up a sofit!”

Andrew Crawford and Rob Link of the DIY Network lent muscle to the tough work of laying shingles. Link, still excited about building at this year’s Jimmy Carter Work Project in Detroit, also painted a shed and installed sofits. Both men say they jumped at the chance to represent their company at this historic build.

”It’s great seeing people come together like this,” says Crawford. He was interested because he had learned about Habitat’s work when his cousin became a Habitat homeowner in Kingsport, Tennessee.

Cheryl McFarland agrees that the experience is enriching, one that she wishes could last a bit longer.

“It makes you want to come back and check on the progress,” she says.

These volunteers’ presence on site is as precious a gift as any financial one their companies could make. It shows the corporations’ commitment to not just fund good works but to be a hands-on part of them as well. As these volunteers now know, each time a company inspires one of its employees to join a build, another Habitat supporter, one who will return again and again, is created.