A general contractor and carpenter by trade, Howard lends his skill and compassion to Habitat homebuilding projects across the city. We're so lucky to have him!
1. How long have you been volunteering with Habitat Philadelphia? How did you first get involved?
I've been a Habitat volunteer for over 20 years, first with Habitat for Humanity of Chester County. There I built about 50 homes. I also spent some volunteer time in Ft. Meyers and Marathon Key, FL, and in Shreveport, LA, where I helped build four homes after Katrina. I met Millard and Linda Fuller a few times, in Chester County and in Louisiana: I admired them greatly, and they became a role model for me. When I heard about the Stiles St. project [with Habitat Philadelphia], I jumped on it, as it is close to where I live. I also grew up not far from it. I started volunteering there in December of 2010, and stayed with it until it was finished; I've been volunteering at sites in the city ever since.
2. What are some of the reasons you come out to support this organization?
I am a carpenter and general contractor by trade, and this past year was dreadful business-wise, so instead of worrying about it, I came out to Stiles St. a few days a week to take my mind off work. I really enjoyed working for Emily and the AmeriCorps team there, and I now work with Cassie; she's just great! We had fabulous Americorp people in Chester County also.
3. What’s your favorite aspect of volunteering at Habitat?
My reason for doing Habitat is simple; God gave me this skill that I have, and I want to use it to build decent affordable housing. When I see how fortunate I am in every way, I know I was put on this Earth for an important purpose, which is to support Habitat. It's lucky for Habitat that I have no hobbies other than this, so I can devote time to it. As someone once said, "What do dogs do on their day off?" That's me.
4. What’s a particularly good memory you have from a work day with us? Or perhaps one of the best days you’ve had at Habitat Philadelphia?
I guess my favorite aspect of volunteering is the amazing breadth of people I meet from all walks of life. I also really enjoy helping teach newcomers construction techniques. My master's degree in Vocational Education helps with that, too. To be honest, every day is my best day at Habitat; no worries, no stress, no money, no one bothering me. Just work.
5. What kind of advice would you like for volunteers to know on their first day working with us?
My advise for newcomers is this: work safely, ask stupid questions instead of making stupid mistakes, don't be afraid to get dirty, and have a great time, while learning something different. Oh, and please come back soon, and bring your friends!