Sarah has a well-earned place in the Habitat Philadelphia volunteer Hall of Fame! She's a regular presence on our construction sites, and is our official "cleaning whiz" who brings her cleaning expertise to help each new house sparkle and shine before its dedication.
1. How long have you been volunteering with Habitat Philadelphia? How did you first get involved?
I've been volunteering with habitat since I first moved out to Philly in the summer of 2009 from a small town in Indiana. During my time in Indiana, I had the opportunity to start and run a new construction cleaning business after working with a local new home builder for several years. The most exciting part of the new home process to me is the final stage-making the home that has undergone an often strenuous construction process look like new! Since my new job here in Philly is in financial services I took the first opportunity I could to get back on the construction and hopefully give back a little in the process so habitat seemed like a great fit and I volunteered.
2. What’s your favorite aspect of volunteering at Habitat?
One of things I love most about habitat is the fact that I know I am being invested in as much as I am making an investment. Time is one of the most valuable resources any of us have to give and when I am a construction site, giving my time (often a treasured weekend or vacation day) the staff always gives so generously of their time and knowledge. Whether it's dangling from a 2nd story roof and puzzling over just how to get the floor joists to form 90 degree angles, to using a nail gun for the first time, the staff has eagerly and generous taught me incredibly valuable construction skills-if I stick around much longer, I'll be the general contractor on my own house someday! While there are always goals and objectives for the day, there is always time to stop and talk about the family moving in, some of the meaning behind what we are doing, and helping the volunteers to truly understand just why it is so important for the half wall to be leveled from every angle imaginable.
3. What are some of the reasons you come out to support this organization?
There's a special connection that happens when people work together over time. It's always exciting to meet new volunteers, and I hope to see more of you soon, but seeing a familiar face that you have sweated with, bandaged cuts with, and encountered the frustrations and joys of the construction experience becomes deeper. Each time coming out becomes not a day of "putting in your community service time for the month", but about building a relationship with an organization and with people that you are committed to. This volunteer relationship, especially that of a regular volunteer, is that same experience and bond that Habitat builds with the families who move into their homes. Habitat then is so different from the builders I used to work with! They are not just a builder and then a mortgage financier once the home closes, but they already have a well established relationship with these families as they have worked together for many hours.
4. Would you tell us a bit about the training you’re planning for staff this month?
This month its my turn to share a little more of my experiences with the habitat staff and some volunteers. I have been given the opportunity to do a Habitat cleaning teach-in with some of the staff and volunteers this Saturday. I learned some great processes and used some excellent cleaning products while running my new construction cleaning business and can't wait to share them. Hopefully I can help habitat cut costs on some cleaning supplies and help to deliver an even better home in the end through some of my prior knowledge and experiences. I hope to also help create some useful cleaning tips for families moving in to keep their homes looking great.
5. What kind of advice would you like for volunteers to know on their first day working with us?
Advice to new volunteers-come on out! And then keep coming out, it only gets better!