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When you’ve got such good people

Chuck Watkins, HFHI’s construction supervisor for special events and general "man-with-answers" on the Benton Harbor site, is a Jimmy Carter Work Project veteran who believes there is something special about this kind of project.

“There’s a different kind of energy at the special builds,” he says. “Especially JCWP.”

Chuck Watkins, construction supervisor in Benton Harbor, cruises the site on a golf cart with his trusted assistant, Lydia.

Chuck has had the tall order of delivering a smooth-running work site; and volunteers, homeowners and staff alike seem to agree that he has done it. One of his most important jobs was to organize the site leadership, making sure that each house was adequately staffed with crew and house leaders and that they, along with the block leaders, felt comfortable with their tasks. And, typical of a Habitat build site, these leaders turned out to be dedicated, tireless and very good at their jobs.

“The actual construction isn’t a challenge when you’ve got such good people,” says Chuck.

According to Chuck, the build is going well. This has freed him to address the steady flow of concerns and minor problems that always arise on a build of this size. Leaders look to him for help on anything from extra building materials to replacements for blown-out golf cart tires, but he believes these things are minor, considering the scale of a Jimmy Carter Work Project.

“The biggest challenge is getting everyone to recognize what’s coming. There are certain things I harp on when we’re getting ready for a build,” says Chuck. “I’ve had volunteers come up to me after the build has started and say, ‘Now I understand.’”

Chuck can be seen all over the Benton Harbor site, cruising in a golf cart with his dog Lydia, who is also his honorary construction assistant. He says that it is the willingness of the people working on the site to function as a team that makes a project like this a success.

“It’s the teamwork, people looking out for their neighbors, that makes it work.”

Emily Koon, Writer/Editor, Habitat for Humanity International

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