Disaster Corps volunteer stories
My lovely wife and I have been living in Denver, N.C., for more than 25 years. We love it here. Denver is a small, country town on a lake. Our two children grew up here and went to North Carolina universities. Our daughter and our grandsons live nearby while our son, who works for the federal government, lives near Washington, D.C. The whole family enjoys the lake. We all swim and fish and we all look forward to boating and using the jet ski. Lake Norman has been a wonderful part of our lives for years.
My wife and I are so happy that we found our church and the many friends we have made in North Carolina over the years. We both truly enjoy working with Habitat here in Lincoln County and around the world. One of the best times of our lives was the three months we spent together in Chiang Mai, Thailand, working as part of the Jimmy & Rosalynn Carter Work Project 2009 pre-build team. We have worked on several Carter Work Projects together and we always enjoy those projects as well as the trips that we usually take afterward.
Since retirement, 13 years ago, we have traveled to foreign countries each year. Last year we visited China, Nepal and India together and I was in Haiti as well. In India we worked with a group of Indian and Pakistani youth associated with Seeds of Peace to build a Habitat home. In May of this year we will return to India to work with Seeds of Peace again to build another Habitat home. We have worked in eight foreign nations, multiple times in Mexico and Belize and we intend to continue to working overseas when the opportunities present themselves because we enjoy traveling so much.
In January 2011, I went to Disaster Corps training in New Orleans and soon thereafter I was off on a two-week deployment to Lafayette, La., just in time for Mardi Gras. We went to Mardi Gras parades in the evenings in Lafayette and New Iberia, and during the day we worked with up to 120 volunteers at a time with only two fully-trained house leaders and two other very capable volunteers who quickly became leaders. It was a very satisfying deployment, having collected a huge amount of Mardi Gras beads and making some very fast friends.
In May and June of 2012, I had a monthlong deployment in Tuscaloosa, Ala., helping them to recover from the terrible damage caused by the tornadoes of June 2011. Working with the Tuscaloosa affiliate was a great experience. We had a different group of volunteers each week and they all worked like demons. Due in large part to the leadership provided by the Tuscaloosa construction supervisors, we finished a house in a month. I learned a great deal about volunteer leadership from the Tuscaloosa construction crews.
Both of the trips to Haiti with Carter Work Projects in 2011 and 2012 were essentially disaster recovery projects. Habitat has done wonderful work in Léogâne. Seeing the 155 homes that we built in 2011 as a community was heart lifting. It made me realize that no matter how much work there still is to do, the work that Habitat has done in Haiti has made a huge difference in the lives of about 1,000 Haitians so far, and the work goes on.
Disaster Corps work has proven to be most gratifying. I look forward to more deployments, working with the Hurricane Sandy families and more opportunities to help those in need.
Read Bill's article in the News @ Norman weekly newspaper about the Jimmy & Rosalynn Carter Work Project in Haiti: Habitat Volunteer Returns to Haiti to Continue Post-earthquake Assistance.