Graham Robb has volunteered with Habitat Philadelphia for several years and in many different capacities: he's a construction volunteer, a member of the Weatherization and Home Repair Program Steering Committee, and has led multiple Global Village trips in foreign countries. Here, Graham shares some of the reasons he loves what he does with Habitat Philadelphia.
I first volunteered with Habitat in the mid-1980s when my wife, Betsy, and I spent a day in Germantown with a group of Philadelphia University students. Unfortunately, attending law school at night and the birth of our two boys caused me to lose touch with Habitat.
I found my way back to Habitat when I joined a Lutheran Church and learned about a Build sponsored by Thrivent Financial for Lutherans. In 2006 I helped coordinate Habitat's interaction with various Lutheran churches who were participating in the project and I have been hooked on volunteering with Habitat ever since. In 2008 my son and I traveled to Brazil with Habitat. Spending a week doing volunteer work in another culture was an amazing experience and led me to become a Team Leader for Habitat Global Village trips. In the last two years I have been lucky enough to be on teams working in Romania and Portugal, and am planning to travel to Buenos Ares for nine days at the end of March 2012.
I truly love spending time on a Habitat work site. The staff in Philadelphia are wonderful to work with and I always meet interesting and fun volunteers. Knowing that you are helping families who are making a significant effort to help themselves is an added motivation to get up early on a Saturday morning even when it is freezing cold outside. Plus, I live in an older house and I am constantly learning new work skills that I can apply to my own home.
The more our family has worked with Habitat the more we have learned the importance of supporting its work in ways other than at a work site. Beyond the need for volunteers, Habitat relies on individuals to provide needed financial support. In Philadelphia, there is much more that Habitat could do if it had greater financial resources. That is why we decided a couple of years ago to give a monthly donation to Habitat Philadelphia. Fortunately I work for the pharmaceutical company Merck, as Merck matches my contributions dollar for dollar. Additionally, Merck allows me to take up to 20 hours of time during the work week to do volunteer work with Habitat without having to use my vacation time. If an employer does not offer matching donations or time off for volunteer work, people might want to suggest that their company consider doing so.