Henry County Habitat for Humanity of Iowa 

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Interview with a Habitat For Humanity Volunteer

Posted by HCHHinIA@yahoo.com on April 14, 2015 at 12:15 PM

An Interview with a Henry County Habitat for Humanity Volunteer

When the Henry County IA Habitat for Humanity (HCHFH) Board asked Bill Erickson for an interview about his experiences as a volunteer on the most recent build, he was a bit reluctant having not often experienced interview situations. He did agree, though, to talk about his involvement with the House #24 build for the local chapter, and the sense of fulfillment he gained as a Habitat volunteer.

Like many seniors, the semi-retired Erickson wanted to give to his community now that his ‘time commodity’ had expanded. Having been a bank examiner, where privacy is the standard, he was looking for a volunteer opportunity that enabled him to gain a sense of accomplishment by actually seeing the “tangible results” of his work. He noticed a news item in The Mount Pleasant News regarding a groundbreaking for House #24 by Habitat For Humanity in Henry County. Erickson was familiar with the Habitat For Humanity organization, but due to his travel schedules during his career, he was not able to do much volunteering. Now in semi-retirement, along with his current work with the Boy Scouts and many years as a church treasurer, he decided to add a hand to house building…a visible accomplishment of volunteer participation to provide “decent, affordable” housing for those in need. He approached Ed Kropa, HCHFH board secretary, about the, then, current Habitat project in Mount Pleasant. Kropa started the discussion with descriptions of the numerous committees that make up the Habitat board. Bill explained that he was interested in the actual physical work of building rather than taking on an administrative task. Kropa gave him the site address and encouraged him to check out a usual Saturday morning, 8:00am to noon work session.

Having little experience with the building trades, Bill was not sure what to expect. Should he take his own tools (the more hammers available the more work that gets done); would he need proof of insurance (no, but would need to sign in at the work site); would he remember what he had learned from the contractor who had remodeled his home (recall some things he had helped the contractor do)? What Erickson appreciated about this local chapter is the willingness to accept volunteers and quickly put them on a job. Those new and inexperienced in skilled jobs work with an experienced volunteer and that volunteer demonstrates ‘til the new volunteer is acclimated to the skilled task. Unskilled volunteers can immediately make a difference in the work site and save time for skilled workers by: opening and disposing of new material packaging; keeping tools organized; vacuuming, and taking trash to the dumpster; sweeping the yard with a magnate to detect and dispose of metals; covering power-hammered nails in door and window frames with wood putty, and many more tasks.

Erickson also noted that gender and age* do not matter. Local businesses, high school and community college classes, and community organizations support work at the site by sending groups (men, women, and *youth age 16 and older) for special projects, e.g., putting up dry wall, plastering, building and setting wall frames and tresses, roofing, siding, applying attic insulation, providing meals/drinks for volunteers, etc.

Bill Erickson felt called to Henry County Habitat For Humanity, because of its faith-based roots, the opportunities it provides for those in need of “decent, affordable housing,” and the vision and follow through of groups and individuals that believe in giving a “helping hand up, not a hand out.” He is much in awe of the recipients of these efforts, the Habitat partners. He believes in the concept of “sweat equity” that an individual or family agrees to when they become a Habitat partner, and sees it as a strong basis for pride in home ownership. He has witnessed future and past partners fulfilling the sweat equity stipulation…working on their homes, on other partner homes, and providing meals for volunteers. Partners can also earn sweat equity hours by attending classes on caring for the home, finances in home ownership, familial considerations, as well as supporting other partners during their builds.

Bill Erickson understands that in this effort, we are all blessed: the community, the partners, and the volunteers!


Next event: Sunday, April 19 / 2:30 p.m. / HCHFH Groundbreaking for House #25

506 South Bittersweet at Heather Estates in Mount Pleasant

HCHFH contacts:

Volunteer Questions: Lisa Diener, President and Volunteer Coordinator: 319 931 0656

HCHFH Email: hchhinia@yahoo.com

HCHFH Website: http://www.freewebs.com/hfhhenryctyia

Amazon Donation Option: http://smile.amazon.com/ch/42-1417675 (See website homepage for details)

HCHFH Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/henrycountyhabitatforhumanity

HCHFH via Fellowship Cup: http://www.thefellowshipcup.org/habitat-for-humanity-henry-county-ia/

HCHFH P. O. Box Henry County Habitat for Humanity / P. O. Box 864 / Mount Pleasant IA 52641




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