It was nearly five years ago that I decided I wasn’t having enough fun! I had retired from my high school teaching career several years earlier, and while I enjoyed spending time with my husband and family, traveling, bicycling, gardening with no set schedule, I kept feeling like I could be doing something more in my life.
Then one day I was chatting with some women in my neighborhood who had worked for Habitat for Humanity in another city. They recalled how they threw a “stud party” for a Habitat home. People came to the site and made small monetary donations to paint on construction studs for the newly framed house. The artwork and messages they left were diverse—affection for the new home owners, Bible passages, congratulations, advice, good wishes and hopes for the future. It sounded like a lot of fun and a great way to enclose love and optimism in the new home. I had contributed money to Habitat International in the past, but suddenly the idea of actively volunteering my time and energy to a local chapter took root. I called the Loveland Habitat Chapter.
Orientation was very easy and the coordinator went out of her way to match tasks to the talents and needs of the volunteers. Even though my husband and I travel several times a year, I could still contribute in ways that would fit in with my scheduled trips. I settled on working in the administrative office one morning a week. Duties included everything from clerical work and taking snacks to the construction sites for the volunteers to photographing new home dedications and putting together display boards for various events. I met many great people and had fun along the way.
I was soon helping with special events like the Voyage to Africa and the first Home Sweet Home Christmas event at the Loveland Embassy Suites. At Home Sweet Home I had the opportunity to take a local glass workshop called “Artisan You,” where I made little glass “home” ornaments to decorate the tree. How funwas that! We even won an award for our tree decoration that year. Home Sweet Home is now an annual event that not only raises money for Habitat and provides an outstanding family holiday outing, but is a lot of fun for the volunteers!
Gradually, my Habitat volunteering expanded to include several Women Build and Build-a-Thon construction days, during which I painted, caulked, framed and even used power saws and hung drywall. Through these experiences I gained new respect for the skills of our construction volunteers and the effort that Habitat puts into these quality homes. And I expanded my own confidence in what I am capable of contributing. And did I mention? It was fun!
Over the years, watching the stream of talented and giving young people who have come into the Habitat sphere has been beyond fun. It’s also been inspiring for me to meet all of these dedicated and creative individuals: the Bike and Build youth who travel through Loveland and stay a few nights every summer, building houses on their way across the country; the Iraqi students from CSU who help with a build day and take the experience home with them; the local high school music students who perform at Home Sweet Home each year; the high school construction class that gets practical experience working on a Habitat home; and the many other high school and college students who often volunteer on site and at special events. It does a Baby Boomer like me good to meet all of these caring young people.
It’s hard to believe that nearly five years have gone by since I started volunteering at Loveland Habitat. When I started, they had yet to complete their 100th home. Now, they’re at 119 and counting! I hope to be around when they reach 200 and beyond. Hanging out at Habitat is just too much fun!