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Behind the scenes volunteers: Family Advocates

For Habitat families, the journey to homeownership is challenging yet rewarding.

Future homeowners invest 350 hours of sweat equity which serves as a down payment on their new home, in addition, they participate in homeownership workshops covering subjects from financial literacy to home maintenance. Juggling jobs and families, most future homeowners complete their sweat equity in 18 to 24 months.  Along this journey, they are guided along by some of our most valuable volunteers: Family Advocates.


Pat Hoyt and Harold Butler are two of our most dedicated and longest serving Family Advocates at Habitat Philly.

Pat has been a volunteer with Habitat for almost 20 years, and Harold has been volunteering for 16 years. Beyond their work with Habitat, both Pat and Harold have been dedicated to service for their entire lives. Harold is a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps who has also volunteered with the Big Brothers association. Pat has been an activist for most of her life, and originally came to Philadelphia to work with a nonviolence training program called Movement for a New Society.

As Family Advocates, Pat and Harold provide listening ears, advice and support to Habitat partner families throughout the home buying process. Advocates encourage partner families as they navigate the challenges of balancing their Habitat responsibilities while maintaining their day to day lives, and the families for whom they are working so hard to provide a place to call home.

Harold, our most recent Volunteer of the Quarter, says that the best thing he can do for families is to encourage them. He believes that his experience growing up in North Philadelphia gives him the unique ability to relate to the experiences of the families he works with, and he sees how Habitat’s work helps not only future homeowners, but the community as a whole.

“That’s the part that I gain from the whole program. Because it just gives me hope that the neighborhoods that I came up in are going to be stronger because we know that [Habitat is] training future homeowners to go into these neighborhoods as good neighbors, and you see the success when they’re taking that information and bettering themselves as well.”

While not always an easy journey, helping a family overcome obstacles and accomplish their goal of homeownership makes the Family Advocate experience worthwhile. Pat says that the process of working towards a home helps partners feel a sense of accomplishment, and builds their confidence so that they pursue other goals they may not have otherwise.

“It gives [homeowners] that confidence, ‘Well, if I want to go to school now, I can do that. I just saw that I can do anything. There were a lot of obstacles, but I was able to overcome them.’”