Bill Norquist is a long-term volunteer who started volunteering with Habitat in 1989! Bill is an avid advocate for Habitat and has been spreading our mission for many years. He started off volunteering with his church, All Saints Lutheran, and played a big role in getting people to volunteer with Habitat. He remembers the first few years when they started at Habitat the work day was done when they ran out of materials or when there was no more work they could do; the days were a lot shorter back then.
Bill knew about Habitat through Millard Fuller. He had read a few of Millard’s books and was inspired that Millard was a millionaire at a young age, but then changed his ways to use his money to give back. After starting off at Habitat with his church, Bill served with many regular crews such as Dakota Crew and NorthCentral Regulars. He is also actively involved with his new church, Zion Lutheran, and volunteers with them as well.
Not only has Bill been volunteering on house builds for more than 25 years, but he has also been involved in many other ways as well. During the beginning years of Habitat, Bill was a part of the family selection committee for five years and he really enjoyed it because he got to know the families and see the impact the homes made. Bill has volunteered at the panel plant and he helped make the walls for the Operation Home Delivery project which were used for houses after hurricane Katrina. He then went down to Mobile, Alabama to help build those houses in 2005 and stayed down there for two weeks. In 2000, he was able to go to a Jimmy Carter Work Project in Americas, Georgia and also worked on the Jimmy Carter build in the Twin Cities. As part of their long-term commitment to affordable housing, Bill and his wife, Marie, are also Legacy Circle members in recognition of their thoughtful inclusion of Twin Cities Habitat in their estate plans
After many different volunteer experiences and years, Bill has many positive stories with Habitat. One of his favorite moments involved working with first time volunteers and teaching them some new skills.
“There was a gal that came in one time with her two daughters, 16 and 18, and our job was to put sheetrock on the ceiling. And she said ‘I’ve never even held a hammer before, I don’t know how to do this!’ So we worked together on this and I showed her how to lift the sheet and get the sheet rock up there and how to use a screw gun. At the end of the day we had the entire ceiling done in the kitchen and she was totally amazed that she helped get that much done.”
Habitat has made a lasting impression on Bill and he said he has made way more friendships now then he had when he was working. To get a chance to meet other people and work with other people has made a really big impact on him. Bill explained that Habitat’s mission speaks to him and it is a core in his life. When I asked him what is it that keeps him supporting and advocating for Habitat, it did not take him long to respond.
“For me it’s the children. I feel overwhelmed when I see the children and how they get an opportunity to grow up in an environment that benefits them. When I go to these dedications and I see the children that’s where the fulfillment is, because I realize their life will never be the same.”
Bill has the opportunity to share his Habitat experience with his family as well. He is able to teach his grandchildren about sharing and really encourages them to take a giving back or volunteer route.
“It has been a life lesson for me to share this with my family. I have seven grandchildren and they all know about Habitat and sometimes they stop by on site and come during lunch time with my wife. Most of my grandkids have seen most of the work I’ve done.”
Bill is a big inspiration and we are very thankful for all the years he has contributed and is still contributing to Habitat. It is great to see how big of an impact Bill has made with Habitat and just as great to see how big of an impact Habitat has made on Bill. Hopefully Bill’s story can inspire more volunteers to volunteer regularly and become long term volunteers.