Volunteer Story – Day 1

Judy Sterry retired to build

'I knew after that first Carter Project that I’d be investing a lot of time into Habitat.'
Volunteer Story – Day 1 -- Habitat for Humanity Int'l 1

First impressions last — Judy Sterry keeps coming back

Biloxi, Mississippi
— Judy Sterry didn’t take to retirement like most people. One day after she retired, she was on a Habitat for Humanity Global Village trip in Mongolia.

“I’ve spent my life trying to be of service, and now I have more time to do that,” Sterry, 66, said. “That’s a very nice life to be able to lead.”

Sterry, who lives in Seattle, began her relationship with Habitat in 1999. She was living in the Philippines as a Peace Corps worker during the Jimmy Carter Work Project. She was captivated by the work and the spirit of the Habitat volunteers.

“I was actually on Carter’s site there, and I still have the letter I wrote my friends and family about that experience,” Sterry said. “I was just so impressed with the volunteers and all the organization and preparation that went into that event. I knew after that first Carter Project that I’d be investing a lot of time into Habitat.”

After serving in the Peace Corps for two and a half years in the Philippines, Sterry served another year in Ecuador. She has also worked as a teacher, an adventure instructor with Outward Bound and the National Outdoor Leadership School — and she has worked with carpentry and cabinetry throughout her life. “The typical female,” she said with a laugh.

A week at this year’s Jimmy & Rosalynn Carter Work Project wasn’t enough for her, either. She went on a Global Village trip to Biloxi in April and has spent several weeks helping here since then. She’s painting, doing carpentry and helping pre-build homes to be built this week. She’s had plenty of opportunities to witness the places along the Gulf Coast that are still in desperate need.

“I’m a snow person so I describe it as an avalanche of destruction all along the coast,” she said.

She has also had time to witness the local Habitat affiliate — Habitat for Humanity of the Mississippi Gulf Coast — and national volunteers coming together for the Carter Work Project.

“It’s such a close community that Habitat has,” Sterry said. “It’s people that really want to give back and do something for others. And that’s a lovely community to be a part of.”
— Phillip Jordan