Direct impact on people's lives
Habitat volunteers play a big role in our construction work. They are not only building homes but also communities. Joe Cross, a husband and father of two kids, is one of the most dedicated expat volunteers in Hungary. He tells us why volunteering motivates him.
Can you tell us a few words about yourself?
Sure! My family moved to Budapest in 2013 from San Diego, California. My wife is a speech therapist and works with overseas clients via Skype. My son is 10 and my daughter is 6. I do independent consulting for US companies. We lived in Prague years ago and visited Budapest many times. So when our children were old enough, we decided to move to Budapest so they could learn different cultures. We love living in Budapest and plan to stay as long as it is allowed. In our free time, we enjoy geocaching and playing disc golf (Frisbee).
Did you do any volunteering before Habitat?
I spend about 15 hours per week working with a group called e-NABLE. We use 3D printers to make prostheses for children. I started a local chapter in Budapest in 2014 and we’ve delivered around 15 devices in Hungary. I am also on the board of directors of Enable Outreach, a non-profit organization that helps e-NABLE chapters around the world.
How did you find about Habitat for Humanity Hungary?
I have known about Habitat for Humanity for many years. It is well-known in the US and a couple of my friends have volunteered with Habitat. When we moved to Budapest, I found the local Habitat group online. When I emailed to ask about volunteering, Renata contacted me and invited me to participate.
My first build day was in May 2015 in Kőbánya. I enjoyed it very much and asked to come back soon. Since then, I have participated in about 8 build days and last year’s fundraising 10K (charity run). My wife has also joined about 4 build days. We look forward to helping out this year, too.
How come you have chosen Habitat Hungary to volunteer?
I see many people camping in parks when I play Frisbee in Budapest. I’m glad to help to make sure flats are available to everyone who needs them. Besides, I like working with Habitat for Humanity because it has a direct impact on people’s lives. We get to meet the families that we’re helping, it is a good physical exercise and we meet other volunteers. I also like visiting parts of Budapest that I probably wouldn’t have visited otherwise. And Renata, a volunteer coordinator, is amazing, so I love visiting with her.
What’s your favorite Habitat story?
I remember when we worked on one couple’s flat. When we were done, the wife talked to all of the volunteers for a few minutes. I didn’t understand everything she was saying in Hungarian, but I could tell from her voice and her face that she was truly grateful for everyone’s help. It was a wonderful reminder how important Habitat for Humanity is to people and how it makes a real difference in our lives. However, my most memorable moment was at the last year’s 10K run when we got to warm up with Krisztián Berki, an Olympic gymnastics champion. It was great to meet him.
Do you have any message for those who have not worked with us yet?
Working with Habitat for Humanity is a fun and rewarding way to help your community and meet English-speakers with similar interests. You don’t have to know how to do construction - just bring your energy. For example, I brought my friend, Christian Brocard, to a build last year and he ended up working on several flats after that. While my kids are too young to help with construction, they are doing fundraising and running in this year’s Vivicitta family event.