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Laird Kinnier

-Wrangler of Volunteers, Herder of Butterflies

I am a native Texan and resident of Amarillo for 18 years. I enjoy blues music, beekeeping, gardening, outdoors, Deadhead and storytelling.  I’m a carpenter by trade and a manufacturer of sawdust.

I started volunteering with Habitat in Lynchburg, Va., in 1990 with the first Junior League sponsored house, probably the first Women Build, and did not miss a Saturday for the next two years. I came down with incurable Habititus. I assisted with various projects such as their college builds, probably before there was Collegiate Challenge. I still remember 50 Bethel College students who drove 1500 miles one way in yellow school bus to volunteer (ouch).

In the past 20- plus years with Habitat for Humanity, I have had the pleasure of serving at different levels and groups, including Green team, Prison build, and Disaster Corps. All have been very rewarding.

My first involvement with Disaster Corps was in 2000 after a tornado in Camilla, Ga., for a 10-house blitz build. During the reconstruction of the gulf, I was deployed to various other affiliates to help with collegiate challenge, which I participated in for 13 years. Some of my most recent deployments have been to Tuscaloosa, Ala., Joplin, Mo., and Springfield, Mass. At every volunteer opportunity I have been truly blessed with mankind’s generosity, and have met some truly amazing people along the way.

In the spring of 2011, Alabama was hit with 200 tornados in short span of hours; devastating lives and property forever. HFHI started sending Disaster Corps volunteers to Tuscaloosa to help the affiliate with the recovery process while the affiliate assembled a team to deal with the devastation. I spent the month of August helping with the construction of the first of many homes to come. Spring break of the following year, I was able to go back and see the progress they had made.

That same spring, Joplin, Mo., was devastated by an EF-5 tornado in a matter of minutes. The Tulsa Habitat saw a need and rushed to help, neighbors helping neighbors, completing a blitz build for 10 homes in 10 days. Disaster Corps leaders came from all over, including Tennessee, Michigan, Arkansas and Texas to help with the build while volunteers came from as far away as Lichtenstein, United Arab Emirates and Japan. The governor then challenged all professional sports teams in Missouri to each build seven homes for a total of 35 homes. I was able to go back this year and see how God was building Habitat for Humanity.

In the summer of 2011, a tornado struck Springfield, Mass., their first in 18 years for the state. Disaster Corps assembled a team of volunteers to assist with the construction of four homes in 10 days. Every HFHI opportunity has truly been a blessing and it comes from where you might least expect it.

As a volunteer I pack light and only take my hand tools with me. We need not to anticipate but to participate and learn to improvise, overcome and adapt. I was taught in school that a knowledgeable man has an appreciative understanding of his surroundings and the ability to adapt to it.