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April 25, 2024 Community, Family, Volunteering

Volunteer Spotlight: Vivian

Volunteers are an essential part of Habitat and we love working alongside them to reach our vision of a city where everyone has a decent place to live.

In honor of National Volunteer Month and Volunteer Appreciation Week, we are spotlighting one of our dedicated Habitat volunteers, Vivian!

Vivian has been volunteering at our ReStore on Allegheny Ave every Friday since its grand opening last year. She is a joy to work alongside and can often be found cleaning furniture and organizing shelves while building relationships with each shopper who enters the store.

We are grateful for Vivian’s heart and commitment and asked her some questions to share more about who she is and why she volunteers with Habitat Philadelphia.

Tell us about yourself!

I am a mother and grandmother. I was married for 34 years to the beloved Reverend Wallace P. Gary, who passed away in 2008. It was his dream and hope that our two daughters and I go to college so I started out with community college and then later received my Bachelors of Science degree at DeVry University.

For 18 years, I worked at the Philadelphia Tribune, the oldest African American newspaper in the country, until I retired in 2016. While at the Tribune, I volunteered for special events and wore many hats, including working the front desk to escort public figures like Obama before he became President. I even had the opportunity to volunteer and work on both of his presidential campaigns.

What interested you in volunteering with Habitat for Humanity Philadelphia? 

I appreciate the work that Habitat does by building homes and changing people’s lives forever. I’ve seen the tears of joy on families’ face when they receive the keys to their new homes and I wanted to be a part of it. 

What have you learned since volunteering?  

That I can receive a sense of fulfillment and happiness when helping customers and working with the incredible team at the Allegheny Restore.   

What motivates you to give back to the community?  

Making people happy and seeing them smile. There’s too much unhappiness in our communities, especially with gun violence lately.

What advice would you give to someone who is considering volunteering?  

I would tell them that volunteering will change their life and bring great fulfillment and happiness, especially when you are focused on helping others.   

What does Habitat means to you?

I love Habitat because they give families the opportunity to buy brand new homes that are affordable. It’s a second chance for people especially with children and family. Habitat gives a new meaning to living and thriving.

What is your favorite story or memory from volunteering?  

It would be my first day at the grand opening of the Allegheny Ave Restore. I saw many smiles on people’s faces as they shopped and went home with their new items. 


Thank you Vivian and our many volunteers who believe in our vision of a city where everyone has a decent place to live. You make a difference every day and we are grateful to work alongside you.