Returning Volunteers Lend a Hand During Veterans Day Build
“I’m a returning volunteer,” said John as he addressed a group of volunteers at Habitat Chesapeake’s annual Veterans Day Build. “When I volunteered last year, I was assigned to work in a house that was completely gutted – no walls, just a frame. I thought to myself, there is no way that this house will get done. But as our workday went on, my team moved to a different house that was nearly complete. This house had drywall, plumbing, defined rooms and even windows. The progress from beginning to end was astounding. These houses truly become homes. That is why I chose to return as a volunteer and I am honored to lend a helping hand.”
We hear stories like John’s a lot. Volunteering for the first time on a Habitat work site can bring feelings of excitement and eagerness, but it can also be overwhelming. Habitat Chesapeake is one of only a handful of Habitat affiliates in the world that focuses on rehab construction just as much as new construction. It’s work that is much needed in communities across Baltimore City, but when you are standing in the midst of a vacant shell, it’s nearly impossible to imagine how it could ever be a home again.
Fortunately, a few hours of building alongside our experienced construction crew is often enough to sway even the most skeptical individual. As volunteers learn to do things like spray foam insulation, measure window frames and install drywall, they see what is possible – together. A day on a Habitat work site is our mission in action: bringing people together to build homes, communities and hope.
Volunteer labor maximizes Habitat Chesapeake’s impact, allowing us to build more homes and help more families in need. The cost-savings of volunteer labor, along with efficient building methods, modest house sizes and in-kind building supply donations means that we can offer more zero-percent interest loans that make homeownership affordable for low-income families. Mortgage payments for Habitat homeowners can total no more than 30% of a family’s income to ensure that they have sufficient funds for other basic needs. The need for this program is great, since more than 25 percent of Maryland renters spend half or more of their income on housing and most face rent price increases every year.
More than 2,000 people volunteer with Habitat Chesapeake each year and the majority are from local companies like the one where John works – Vision Technologies. Sending a team of employees to events like the Veterans Day Build or hosting a company-sponsored Team Build during a workday is a unique and inspiring employee engagement opportunity and also clearly communicates a company’s commitment to being a good corporate citizen. That’s important, since study after study shows that when a company invests in causes that their employees and customers care about, they are likewise more invested in the company’s success and show greater brand loyalty.
Also, thanks to John and other corporate volunteers, it’s not only the houses that are transformed. When long-vacant structures are brought back to life, whole neighborhoods improve. That transformation is underway in East Baltimore, where this year’s Veterans Day Build was held and where Habitat Chesapeake is in the process of rebuilding 15+ now-vacant properties. This site will play host to many Team Builds in the coming year, as well as events like the Home is the Key Build in April and Women Build Week in May. We look forward to bringing many more stories of new and returning volunteers and the homes, communities and hope that we are building there in the coming year.
Thank you to John, and all of the volunteers from this year’s Veterans Day Build for your generous donations and helping hands!
For more information on how your company can sponsor an event or Team Build, click here.