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Volunteer Testimony: Bill Barret

Volunteering with Habitat can be about more than building homes. We rely on our volunteers every step of the way, from finding families eligible to buy Habitat homes to the moment we hand them the keys. This is a testimony from a volunteer with Family Services.  

I met this young couple on an interview in South Minneapolis. I cannot remember why but my partner did not show up so while we waited outside on a beautiful summer night the interview began in a casual way. I was 65 years old and a grandfather at this time and the buyers were in there early twenties and had immigrated from Africa.

We were less formal then and the role of the home interviewer was bigger. We did more tasks like talking with the Landlord, presenting the home which was offered and I usually forget something so I had several contacts with this family. At one point the father was thinking about not applying to Habitat because he might have to leave his employment or travel far to work. I was unprofessional in my response. I told him that I knew he should buy any house we offered, jobs come and go but he would never get a house any other way. I even had my wife watch the baby in the car while we looked over the house under construction. They bought the house in Newport.

Here's the good part and why I still work on the family selection committee after more than 10 years: Years later I was working on a take back in Newport and I heard a call, “Mr. Bill”. I was too old to be just Bill, they called me, “Mr. Bill”. There they were at their home wondering how to fix something. I was able to ask them what they thought about the move to Newport and buying a Habitat house. While the man talked about the good and the bad of the house, the move to a white neighborhood and work, his wife stood behind him nodding her head yes in an enthusiastic manner. They had done the right thing for themselves.

-Bill Barret 

Habitat has many volunteer opportunities with varying levels of commitment. If you'd like to learn about the various non-construction ways you can volunteer with Habitat, click here., or attend one of our volunteer open houses

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