Beryl Wiltshire: Helping with sweat equity

Beryl Wiltshire knew about Habitat, but at age 68, wasn’t sure it was an option — until she saw former first lady Rosalynn Carter working on a construction site. “I saw what she was doing, and I thought maybe I could,” says Wiltshire.

Three years later, she is a crew leader for Habitat for Humanity of the Greater Orlando Area. Wiltshire is on a site every Saturday, helping new volunteers and encouraging them to try new things, including her favorite task: working on the roof.

In 2012, Wiltshire noticed a young woman on her crew working particularly hard. “When she finished what she was doing, she’d come find me and ask ‘What can I do?’ I’d have to persuade her to stop and have water,” she remembers.

Through their conversations that day, Wiltshire learned that Elizangela Dos Santos was performing her very first sweat equity hours toward her own Habitat home. Knowing that Habitat Greater Orlando allows homeowners to have 100 hours of sweat equity completed by friends or family, Wiltshire asked Dos Santos if someone was helping her. The answer was no.

“So I asked, ‘Would you mind if I did?’” Wiltshire says. “I was thrilled to be able to help her.

“People are always saying thank you for what you do,” she says, “but I feel like, no, thank you because it’s something I enjoy doing.”