By Habitat Staff
As the weather warms up, our need for one-day volunteers on our Habitat home build and home repair projects starts to slow down. However, there are other volunteer positions in the summer months that are incredibly impactful. So let’s take a moment to highlight these incredible volunteers who keep our projects going day after day, week after week!
A Brush With Kindness Regular Crew
This Wednesday I drove out to the A Brush With Kindness (ABWK) home repair site out in Brooklyn Center to bring cookies to the regular crew (also referred to as the A-Regs) that was working out there. Since I worked on homebuilding as an AmeriCorps two years ago, I didn’t get a whole lot of experience on A Brush with Kindness sites or with the crew (other than the occasional cookie delivery). They were really fun to chat with, and they often individually volunteer in other capacities with Habitat as well. I’ve heard from many ABWK site staff just how impactful and warm they are.
In ABWK, each project offers something new and site staff never know what they will find. The A-Regs make the needed repairs in often difficult, existing circumstances. Sometimes projects open up to be larger or more in depth than we originally thought and each existing home is different. Alison Reist, ABWK Site Supervisor, writes that in this job there “are no one-size-fits-all solutions. The crew are experts at finding what works to marry the old with the new.” They have developed great flexibility with various types of technical solutions to the wide assortment of projects they work on.
Many of the volunteers on the A-Reg crew began with Habitat in different capacities. Some started volunteering by signing up for individual postings and others started getting involved in volunteering with a group or a different regular crew.
Alison writes: The regulars recognize there is an intimacy in ABWK. Working in an occupied home is a glimpse into another’s life. There are often opportunities to really interact and get to know a homeowner. The work is a fulfilling challenge in itself, but ultimately it’s about the people. The crew routinely sees and creates a much-needed transformation and witnesses the impact that will have on a family.
Being in those situations and interacting with homeowners has shaped perspectives. The crew knows that for many homeowners they work tirelessly but may not have the means to do necessary repairs. There is a great willingness to give of their time and talents in a way that’s significant and a satisfaction in helping provide for a family.
As staff, we routinely sing the praises of the A-Regs. They amaze us with their talents and care. They go above and beyond expectations. It’s not uncommon for someone to show up with a trunk full of donations or to even work on a special part of a project in their own time. Not only do they complete the bulk of our skilled repairs, but will also come into a home and identify many smaller but important things and take it upon themselves to fix what otherwise could not have happened. We could not do the work we do without them.
This summer, we’re looking to expand the ABWK regular crew. If you or someone you know is interested in coming to volunteer on Wednesdays in various home repair and painting projects, please read more about the position here and email firstname.lastname@example.org to express interest in joining.
House Month Volunteers
When I was an AmeriCorps out on the construction site, I served under Habitat Site Supervisor, McKinsie Clyde. My first full new-build start to finish was in Coon Rapids. It was a really interesting learning experience to teach and learn alongside different groups of volunteers every day and eventually learn how to physically build a house. The summer build season and large groups brought a lot of energy from all of the volunteers, which was a refreshing change of pace from the slower winter months (though we are still building and need volunteers in the winter). It also sometimes got a little overwhelming for me as a first year AmeriCorps (and introvert) to keep up with the pace and the daily changes of tasks and people all with different names and faces, along with their unique stories, motivations, work styles and levels of experience.
I remember that one of my saving graces that summer was a volunteer who committed to come to the house at least three days a week for at least three weeks (though if I remember correctly he continued his time with us for a little while longer and helped out more throughout the build). Tim created some much-needed consistency for me. By returning so much to the site, he became familiar with the processes of the build, he knew where everything was, and he could help lead small groups of volunteers or work independently on various projects. I loved how great he was at learning and asking questions. His familiarity with the job site and with McKinsie and I as site staff made each day more and more fluid. His positive attitude and his generous spirit also added to every interaction.
Last year, I ran into him again on a job site. It was great to see him still volunteering and bringing his perspective and hard work to another new house build and all of the volunteers each day.
This summer, we’re looking for more House Month volunteers like Tim. You can learn more about this important role here.