By Herbert Klein, Habitat for Humanity New York City office volunteer
Every year, Habitat New York City attracts thousands of first-time and repeat volunteers who collectively donate tens of thousands of hours of their time. The reasons for taking whole days out of busy lives are as many as there are volunteers. Nevertheless, there is one overarching reason: When you do good, you feel good. And loving your neighbor as yourself is a real good thing to do.
Herbert Hoover was president when I was born. I was raised during the Great Depression, a period when everyone who had an income had to help neighbors and relatives find shelter and food. Today, few Americans face daily starvation or lack of emergency medical care, but so many lack basic, clean, safe, affordable homes.
My manual labor days are over, but Habitat has welcomed me to do work that meets my abilities and their needs. This is similar to the way they create new shelter that meets the diverse needs of Habitat’s partner families.
My fellow volunteers often come as corporate groups with their coworkers to help paint walls and trim. Besides getting tired and dusty, they bond with people who would only be another face in the office. They return home exhilarated with the knowledge that they did their part. Partner families, too, know the satisfying sense of fatigue after a day on the worksite. As a bonus, they know that they have advanced the process of owning their own new home. All volunteers end up with the same good feelings, but we get there in a myriad of ways.