Building Community Blog

Dave Engh is a long-term volunteer who has been with Habitat since 1993 and has gotten involved in many different ways. Dave is the current crew leader for our St. Andrews volunteers, and he's regularly out on site with The 3Mgives Habitat Project. He also repairs Habitat tools at our warehouse, which saves a lot of time and money. One of Dave's favorite volunteer roles is serving as a Neighborhood Family Partner for many families. In this role, Dave gets to see the homeowners after they are living in their new home and gets to check-in with them on a regular basis.

It’s the look in their eyes that gives them away and on which I hone every Wednesday at whatever Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity site I’m working. I can shake my head in faux understanding with the best of them. But for self-preservation, I look for the heads that aren’t shaking and for confidence that registers only through the eyes.

With little more than his truck, camper, and a well-stocked toolbelt, Darrell Gilmore (@H4Hnomad on Twitter) has an audacious goal: to volunteer with Habitat for Humanity in every state within one year, making him the first to do so. And he’s well on his way. In fact, when we welcomed him to Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity this week, Minnesota became state number 36.

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.  

Ray Meier is in his 23rd year of volunteering with Habitat. He joined through his church, St. Andrews, and is part of the regular St. Andrews crew.  He joined in 1995 with them and in 1996 he helped start the 3Mgives regular crew. Ray is one of the few founding 3Mgives regular crew members left that still volunteers and it doesn’t look like he’s stopping anytime soon.

We gather around 8:30 a.m. each morning, holding our coffee cups and waiting our turn at a piece of tape, where we scribble our first names and attach it to our shirts. For most, this is a meaningless exercise because they are members of a tribe — whether it is a church group, or employees of local businesses and government agencies, or a prison crew from Lino Lakes. I’m a tribe of one. I showed up one day at a Habitat site in Saint Paul, met Habitat Supervisor Dave Madzo and, as he put it recently, “just wouldn’t go away.” I write my name out anyway to help answer queries about who I am and what I am doing there. “I help Dave on Wednesdays, “ I always say. “I’m a volunteer just like you.”

Nothing takes the sting out of the frustrating debasement that is today’s political dialogue than pounding a 16-penny nail into a floor tress of a Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity house. I only know to use the term “16-penny” after showing my Habitat supervisor two differently sized nails and asking him to pick the one he wanted.

Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity was presented with the Spinnaker Award on May 11 by Minnetonka Public Schools. The award is given annually to "Individuals or groups who exemplify volunteerism, community and serving the greater good. Like the spinnaker on a sailboat, the groups or individuals recognized with this award are out in front, full-sail, leading us toward the fulfillment of our dreams." We were nominated for the award by Minnetonka High School’s VANTAGE program for being one of their best project sponsors.

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