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2018 Impact Report

Habitat Engages

“I’m able to see the direct connection to our Philadelphia community, and that my efforts are contributing to a successful system.”

Heather Robinson, a 26-year-old Jersey girl, moved to Philadelphia in 2010 and never looked back. She studied interior design at Philadelphia University, and now has been working in the industry for four years. Heather fell in love with the city, and since her college days, has constantly looked for ways to give back to the community. Habitat for Humanity Philadelphia was an accessible non-profit on her university’s campus that she was passionate about and continues to volunteer with and support today.  

How did you hear about Habitat?

H: I got involved with the Habitat for Humanity Campus Chapter my sophomore year of college at Philadelphia University.

Post college, I found out about the Habi Hours that were organized by the Habitat Young Professionals. I had been itching to get involved again and had the benefit of meeting Greg Bradley, Habitat Philadelphia’s Individual Giving Manager, at the event. He was able to connect me with the ReStore committee, which I then became part of.

Why did you decide to get involved?

H: I naturally have the volunteer bug in me, but the concept of Habitat really struck a chord. To me, the volunteering was so accessible, particularly in school, and I could visibly and instantly see how I was helping. Whether through meeting a Habitat family or physically building a wall for a Habitat home, I’m able to see the direct connection to our Philadelphia community, and that my efforts are contributing to a successful system.

There is also the relationship to my field that is very beneficial for me to witness. I can see that the skills I have obtained in school and use every day in the industry are being utilized for a cause that changes lives and enhances communities.

Heather Robinson (center) at the 2017 Flea Market Flip.

In what ways did you volunteer your time?

H: As I mentioned previously, I was involved with Habitat Campus Chapter at Philadelphia University. I was Volunteer Coordinator my junior year and the Chapter President my senior year.

I also coordinated and attended two Habitat alternative spring break trips for Philadelphia University. I still carry the alternative spring break experiences with me because we were able to have a week of building. That building was being done side-by-side with the Habitat families. That by far was the most rewarding experience I have ever had during volunteer work.

Some specific events include…

H: Parking Day is an annual global event where people can temporarily transform street parking spaces into a public park. It is to bring awareness to our community that a small 170sf spot can have a positive impact in our day-to-day environment if it is replaced with art, green space, etc. I am currently on the ReStore committee, and in 2017, the committee led the ReStore’s participation in Parking Day. We built a greenhouse comprised of a variety of windows that had been donated to the ReStore. In our parking spot, we placed the greenhouse on sod and filled it with flowers, plants and areas for the public to sit. We were fortunate enough to get a spot in the business section of town and got great exposure to that community. We then were able to sell the greenhouse to further support Habitat’s work.

I have also been involved with the Flea Market Furniture Flip, now annual event that is coordinated with IIDA (International Interior Design Association). We based the concept off the TV show, Flea Market Flip. Local design firms create teams and select items from the ReStore to creatively “flip” (improve) the item, which is then auctioned off at the main event. All the work to the item is done live, during the event, which creates an interesting design challenge for the teams. I think this event is a very important partnership that Habitat’s ReStore has made with IIDA because it brings awareness to the Philadelphia design community about Habitat Philadelphia and ways to get more involved.

Heather Robinson at the 2017 Flea Market Flip.

Do you have any favorite memories from these experiences, working with the ReStore, or with Habitat for Humanity Philadelphia in general?

H: My favorite memory is definitely the alternative spring break trip mentioned prior. Habitat for Humanity Philadelphia in general is full of incredibly hard working and passionate employees and volunteers. From my experience, I built a network of priceless friends. During my senior year in college, I ended up doing my thesis research project on a fictional new Habitat for Humanity Philadelphia headquarters and community center. A former Habitat employee was my advisor and helped guide me through the project.

Why is Habitat for Humanity Philadelphia a non-profit you’ve continuously decided to volunteer with?

H: Firstly, I love my city, and to visibly witness the positive changes Habitat housing provides keeps me coming back to volunteer. I made a lot of great friends through the Habitat for Humanity Philadelphia community and when you feel welcomed and valued as a volunteer, you never want to stop!