Making a difference for home, from home
Habitat for Humanity volunteers are at the heart of our mission. With their passion and determination, they build and repair homes, revitalize neighborhoods, help change policies and undertake actions that help more families benefit from affordable homeownership.
Even in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic and the measures undertaken by Habitat to ensure the safety of everyone with whom we work, our volunteers set out to use their skills in new, creative and socially distanced ways. They helped their neighbors at a time when safe, decent housing has never been more crucial.
Read on and be inspired by some of the ways housing champions across the country have continued to use their time and talents to help others. We certainly have been!
Letter writing in Atlanta
One of the most meaningful aspects of building with Habitat is the trust, support and friendships formed on the build site. In place of those face-to-face meetings during the pandemic, Atlanta Habitat asked volunteers to compose letters of support for soon-to-be homeowners letting them know their community was always with them — even if, temporarily, not in person. Between June and December 2020, more than 175 people composed stacks of letters filled with their congratulations and well-wishes for 15 first-time homeowner families.
Building baffles in Raleigh, North Carolina
Volunteers of all ages are leaving their mark on Habitat Wake County homes by creating part of them at their own.
Baffles — made of cardboard, metal, foam or plastic — are installed in the interior of homes between the eaves overhang and outside wall soffit. They help improve airflow in the attic as well as keep insulation in place. Each Habitat Wake County home uses about 50-55 baffles.
Under the guidance of their parents, kids and teens have been making baffles out of large pieces of cardboard and dropping them off at the Habitat office to be added to future new builds. In addition to helping complete homes, the baffles provide a blank canvas for the young volunteers to personalize with drawings and notes of encouragement for their future neighbors.
Office assistance in Independence, Missouri
During the pandemic, Truman-Heritage Habitat turned its attention inwards, revising and reimagining the operational aspects of their work to better and more efficiently serve their community. By posting specific skills-based, project-focused opportunities on a volunteer matching website, they recruited highly experienced virtual volunteers from around the country to tackle several items on their to-do list. From helping craft fundraising materials to setting up a contact database, administrative volunteers saved Truman-Heritage Habitat more than $62,000 over a six-month period — funds that can now be used for financial coaching and helping more families build and make repairs.
Desk building in Westwood, New Jersey
After several customers visited the Habitat ReStore looking for desks for their school-aged kids, volunteers at Bergen County Habitat began constructing desks and donating them to students in need of a personal place to attend online classes and complete their schoolwork. The project has given neighbors a way to connect and give back — either by funding the materials for a desk or constructing it themselves. Since 2020, volunteers have built more than 200 desks to help students across 12 local schools get the most out of their homes and their studies.
Translating in Bloomington, Indiana
Bilingual volunteers have helped Habitat Monroe County make their homeownership programs more accessible to more of the area’s Spanish-speaking families through translation services. The volunteers’ remote support — from explaining the process to new applicants over the phone to translating documents online — has helped families feel supported along every step of their homeownership journey, providing them with the practical knowledge, skills and encouragement they need to become successful homeowners.
Advocating in St. Paul, Minnesota
Public policy is a powerful, far-reaching tool for combatting the ongoing housing crisis. During its annual Hill Day advocacy events in 2020 and 2021, Twin Cities Habitat in Minnesota went virtual, offering volunteers overviews of the state’s legislative process, insight on tangible pieces of legislation to advocate for and training on how to use their voices to influence change.
Both events culminated in more than 100 advocates putting their training into practice by meeting with their respective lawmakers via teleconference. During these meetings, attendees discussed the importance of safe and affordable housing, shared personal stories of its impact, and advocated for policies designed to help more Minnesotans.