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5 Things I Learned While Working with Habitat for Humanity

Debunking common misconceptions and using power tools, this now-veteran volunteer highlights just a few facts.

As the sun began stretching its early-morning rays over a small neighborhood on the outskirts of Nashville, I walked across the bustling construction site with a familiar eager anticipation. After working with Habitat for Humanity on one other home-building project, I was fully aware that by the end of the day our whole group of volunteer laborers would be basking in that especially-unique (and possibly addictive) sense of personal satisfaction for a job well done.


Now a two-time veteran of the immensely rewarding process of assisting others toward their goal of home ownership, there are a few interesting facts I've learned along the way:


1. Habitat homes aren't free.


Despite the common misconception that all homes built by Habitat for Humanity are given away at no cost, the truth is that recipients generally pay for their own houses. Prospective homeowners are required to take a number of informative classes in order to help them prepare for successful home ownership, and a variety of creative financing options are available including zero-interest mortgages.


Scott Tilley, President of Global Impact Staffing, assisted in the installation and stabilization of rafters for a home near Nashville, Tennessee.

Scott Tilley, President of Global Impact Staffing, assists in the installation and stabilization of rafters for a home near Nashville, Tennessee.


2. No experience is necessary.


While construction supervisors certainly appreciate a muscular team of people that can help hoist up heavy rafters to top off framed-out walls, there are still plenty of tasks available that are less ... well, ambitious. Even moderately-capable individuals can complete simple projects like nailing foam insulation boards to the side of a house or applying water-resistant tape to wall cutouts in preparation for window installation. Volunteers are also encouraged to receive hands-on instruction for any trade skills desired including the use of available power tools.


Volunteers like Sherri Tilley, publisher of The Flash List entertainment guide, are encouraged to learn new skills including the use of power tools if desired.

Volunteers like Sherri Tilley, publisher of The Flash List entertainment guide, are encouraged to learn new skills including the use of power tools if desired.


SEE ALSO: BUILDING HOPE AND A HOME: ONSITE WITH HABITAT FOR HUMANITY

3. Nissan Titan trucks come in handy.


With up to 1,940 pounds of payload capacity and 9,740 pounds of towing capacity built into this year's Titan models, Nissan trucks are reliable for moving supplies, equipment, and people to and from the build sites. In 2005, the automobile manufacturer donated $1 million and 50 Nissan trucks valued at an additional $1 million to Habitat for Humanity; and the decade-long partnership has now resulted in total contributions to date of more than $14 million, 88 vehicles, 71 home builds, and 80,000 volunteer hours.


A decade-long partnership with Nissan has resulted in total contributions to date of more than $14 million, 88 vehicles, 71 home builds, and 80,000 volunteer hours.

A decade-long partnership with Nissan has resulted in total contributions to date of more than $14 million, 88 vehicles, 71 home builds, and 80,000 volunteer hours.


4. Blessings can't all be counted.


Rochelle, a retired member of the business insurance industry who is now on a fixed income, was one of 39 home recipients recently selected out of a pool of 1,000 applicants. When I asked her if that news had come as a surprise, she simply stated, No, I've been praying on it. She then also expressed her sincere appreciation and gratitude for the overwhelming amount of resources offered and service provided on her behalf. It's not only Rochelle however who benefits from the process; rather, the ripple effect caused by one person's expression of concern for the well-being of another is infinite in reach and rarely, if ever, seen in its entirety.


Joe Sage, publisher and executive editor at Arizona Driver Magazine, travelled to Nashville to contribute his time and effort to the home-building project.

Joe Sage, publisher and executive editor at Arizona Driver Magazine, travelled to Nashville to contribute his time and effort to the home-building project.


5. Teamwork makes the dream(s) work.


Operating in nearly 1,400 communities across the U.S. and over 70 countries around the world, Habitat for Humanity networks with a large number of business and individuals to build, renovate, and repair houses by offering innovative financing methods for thoughtfully-selected homeowners as well as a chance for them to develop their own sweat equity. The organization consistently completes projects which are great opportunities for corporate team-building efforts, community service programs, and even missions work for faith-based organizations.


Sherri Tilley and Jo Ann Holt of Dallas clean window frames and apply water-resistant tape in preparation for window installation.

Sherri Tilley and Jo Ann Holt of Dallas clean window frames and apply water-resistant tape in preparation for window installation.



For more information about ways to become involved both locally and internationally, visit:

Habitat for Humanity
'Come Join Us' is a video that showcases the Habitat Experience This 5 minute video follows the homeowners, volunteers and sponsors as they work through the Fall 2012 build season. 'Come Join Us' is a video that showcases the Habitat Experience
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