Habitat for Humanity

  • Advertise with us

« back to Woodworking Skill Share forum

Forum topic by richgreer posted 05-05-2011 04:33 PM 1532 views 0 times favorited 15 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View richgreer's profile


4541 posts in 3037 days

05-05-2011 04:33 PM

I suspect that there are quite a few LJs that, like me, are in the early years of their retirement and, of course, most of us have some skill in working with wood. We make ideal candidates for volunteering for Habitat for Humanity house building projects.

I’ll be working on our first H4H project of the spring starting tomorrow.

I’m curious, are there other LJs out there who get involved with Habitat for Humanity?

-- Rich, Cedar Rapids, IA - I'm a woodworker. I don't create beauty, I reveal it.

15 replies so far

View PCTNWV's profile


99 posts in 2766 days

#1 posted 05-05-2011 04:42 PM


I participate in both Habitat For Humanity and Rebuilding Together efforts locally every year. I find it extremely enjoyable and rewarding. I worked construction when I was in High School and College as well as my woodworking experience. What I have found is that having skills are an extreme plus as it allows the H4H leaders to team you up with those less skilled and actually get more done.

That being said I would encourage ALL (regardless of skill level) to engage in these activities. The experience is one that will stick with you for a long time and very rewarding.


-- Troy, Virginia

View Ken90712's profile


17553 posts in 3151 days

#2 posted 05-05-2011 05:05 PM

I have been thinking of doing this for some time. I just found out our city Lakewood California has a similar program, helping senior citzens repair and clean items they’re unable perform. Rich your 100% that us LJ’s would be great for this.

Blondie already does charity work with our Chlt Lab Kiana. She passed her thearpy dog testing about 8 months ago. She goes to hospitals and Sr Centers to cheer people up. She also goes to a local elementary school on Fri’s and has 5 kids read to her for 20 min each, one on one. The program is designed for kids with reading or social issues. As the dog won’t laugh when they make mistakes. It has been very rewarding for both Kiana and Blondie.

I look fwd to hearing more about your work Rich and I’ll let you know how mine goes as well. Great post. Thx for sharing.

-- Ken, "Everyday above ground is a good day!"

View richgreer's profile


4541 posts in 3037 days

#3 posted 05-05-2011 05:13 PM

As an FYI, I have worked with H4H in prior years and I seem to be a natural for finish carpentry work. My only problem is that I want every joint and seam to be perfect and being perfect is not cost efficient so, to some degree, I lower my personal standards (but not by much).

-- Rich, Cedar Rapids, IA - I'm a woodworker. I don't create beauty, I reveal it.

View Lee Barker's profile

Lee Barker

2170 posts in 2812 days

#4 posted 05-05-2011 05:36 PM

A year ago at this time I was completing all the casework for an HFH home in our community. I was fortunate to get my major lumber supplier to furnish all the material, my instrument finisher to lacquer the doors for the kitchen, and two of my contractor buddies to do all the installation, rough decks and lay the laminate. They even went on to set all the doors, base and case.

There was a certain amount of ineptitude in the management of the project, focused mainly but not entirely on the use of a local “youth build” program which was, itself, managed by inept people who didn’t have the requisite knowledge to be building to any kind of quality standard, not to mention code.

Fortunately the homeowner was quite knowledgeable himself and was able, in many cases, to correct the errors quietly.

I offer that information just so you approach this wonderful opportunity with your eyes wide open, attuned to Rich’s last comment, and ready for some experiences that will be with you forever.

Just one more anecdote to relate—one of the framing helpers and drywall hangers was a local doctor…turns out he had delivered one of the two kids in the family which now owns the house! Way cool!

Oh and this last thing: Those two kids that live there? My granddaughters. Their parents, my wonderful stepson Joe and his lovely wife Sarah. At this stage in their life they had zero debt but no other way to own a home, and now they do. It’s an even more powerful program when it lands this close to your heart.



-- " his brain, which is as dry as the remainder biscuit after a voyage, he hath strange places cramm'd with observation, the which he vents in mangled forms." --Shakespeare, "As You Like It"

View Broglea's profile


684 posts in 3053 days

#5 posted 05-05-2011 06:09 PM

I haven’t participated in a H4H project, but I do volunteer for “Men and Women of Action” projects. MWA is very similar to H4H. Everything is donated from materials to labor. Projects range from building youth camps, schools and local churches. I’ll be volunteering on a 3 bed and 1 bath home renovation for a single dad trying to raise two daughters this summer. I can’t wait to get started. In the process of raising the funds now.

Being involved with organizations like these will really put your life into perspective.

View BobLoblaw's profile


13 posts in 2874 days

#6 posted 05-05-2011 11:41 PM

Last summer, I volunteered 2 or 3 times a week. It was a very rewarding experience. My first assignment was a home right around the corner from where I grew up!

I must admit, it can be somewhat trying, at times, when there are “too many cooks in the kitchen”....

View knotscott's profile


7980 posts in 3338 days

#7 posted 05-06-2011 01:01 AM

My 16 YO son is scheduled to travel with our church youth group to Michigan to participate in H4H for a week this summer. I was surprised to learn that he needs to pay his own way ($200-$300), and make a $100 donation to the H4H for the privilege. They are having some fund raisers to offset expenses, but I guess I assumed that cash donations to H4H directly would cover volunteer expenses. Anyone else experience this?

-- Happiness is like wetting your pants...everyone can see it, but only you can feel the warmth....

View Verna's profile


202 posts in 2736 days

#8 posted 05-06-2011 01:22 AM

I started volunteering in 2005. I’ve had the pleasure of building homes from the ground up to the roof—a very rewarding experience.

Women’s builds are a lot of fun. Imagine women who have never held a hammer who can swing a hammer and put a 16 penny nail in a 2x by the end of the day—that’s a great accomplishment. I’ve seen women who were totally afraid of a circular saw or a nail gun in the morning, who are using the power tools like a pro by the end of the day.

I’ve even had the great opportunity to help with a week of building in Louisianna in a new Habitat neighborhood after Katrina.

Knee surgery and heart stents have gotten in the way, but I hope to volunteer on a build this summer. I still have a bunch of building in my future!!!

Knottscott, yes, you do have to pay to volunteer. It was a strange concept at first, but all donated money goes to pay for a home for the Habitat family. It leaves all of the donated money going towards either the house being worked on, or for the next one.

-- Verna -- Indianapolis, IN

View 8iowa's profile


1580 posts in 3723 days

#9 posted 05-06-2011 02:39 AM

I have spoken at several Habitat house dedications and served on Lee County’s (Florida) Habitat board of directors. I’ve also supported them with contributions.

-- "Heaven is North of the Bridge"

View bigfish_95008's profile


250 posts in 3066 days

#10 posted 05-06-2011 03:22 AM

I have been involved with H4H in Santa Barbara. Since moving to the big city i haven’t taken the time yet to get re-involved, but I have been thinking of about it of late – heading to the web site now.

-- bigfish "I am always doing what I cannot do yet, in order to learn how to do it." Vincent Van Gogh

View davethenovice's profile


17 posts in 2575 days

#11 posted 05-06-2011 03:25 AM

Every summer throughout high school the youth group at my church would setup a trip and travel to various parts of the country (normally the midwest – being from Michigan and all). We would take a week out of our summer vacation to go on a mission trip and work with H4H and it is some of the most rewarding work I have ever done. I haven’t done any volunteer work in a long time, but don’t really have the time right now with my growing family and work schedule. Hopefully I will be able to get back into this in the near future as it was always an awesome experience to help build someone a home and see the looks on their faces. Good luck to you in your volunteer work!

-- Dave the novice - Illinois

View docholladay's profile


1287 posts in 3021 days

#12 posted 05-06-2011 03:36 AM

My sons and I have worked on several H4H projects. It is a lot of fun and a very worthy cause. There are a few things about H4H that I think sets them apart. 1) It makes it possible for some people to become property owners that otherwise may not be able to do that. 2) Almost all of the labor and materials are donated, keeping the cost very low. 3) The future homeowner does not get a free ride. They have to invest a certain amount of time in other peoples houses before they can be approved to begin their own home project. They have to invest a certain amount of time in their own home. They don’t get the house totally for free. They will have a mortgage and a house payment (albeit low) after it is all said and done. I like that idea. I’m completely on board with helping others in need, but I am not of the opinion that anyone should just have everything given/provided for them. I like H4H’s approach that means the homeowner had investment in the house. I feel they will value it more because of it.


-- Hey, woodworking ain't brain surgery. Just do something and keep trying till you get it. Doc

View Bernie's profile


422 posts in 2799 days

#13 posted 05-06-2011 05:43 AM

Rich – Enjoy your experience, sounds like H4H is right up your alley. I know this because I’ve watched your postings on your church projects. You like helping other folks. You know that giving isn’t just GIVING! It’s a privilege. Having been on both sides of the fence, I feel more comfortable on the giving side. God bless you and all the other posters on this thread. As for myself, I haven’t seen much H4H activity in our local area (South central NH), but you have all sparked my interest. I always thought H4H was active in “disaster” areas, but I will search local activities. Since my retirement, we are now a 1 vehicle household (my wife still works and wants to work to fulfill her lifetime dream. She went and got her Masters degree after raising our 4 sons while I worked… God bless her). But if I don’t find any local H4H projects here, I’ll be content helping local needs in the ways I do. Some of my volunteer work does incorporate my woodworking skills… but the other stuff is still gratifying like the food bank. Good luck to you and all LJ folks who volunteer, especially us younger retired folks. For our fellow even younger working folks, (I was Boy Scout leader for 20 yrs), you can still do something. Thanks for all the inspiring posts everybody.

-- Bernie: It never gets hot or cold in New Hampshire, just seasonal!

View Grandpa's profile


3259 posts in 2638 days

#14 posted 05-06-2011 05:48 AM

I work with World Changers through my church. It deals more with repairs where Habitat deals with new construction. I have a job June 13 through 17 installing a house full of windows and painting the house. I will have a crew of 10 or 12 youth from all over the country. One other adult.

View Tedstor's profile


1643 posts in 2595 days

#15 posted 05-06-2011 06:20 AM

Around 1999 some H4H organizers were soliciting volunteers for a project about 60 miles from my home. They said they “desperately needed every person that could spare the time”. So I signed on, woke up at 5AM on a Saturday morning, and drove an hour to the site. The organizers asked me to get to the site by 630AM. When I arrived, there was no one there. I hung around until almost 7, and was just about to leave when a couple guys showed up. Apparently, the actual showtime was 730. Between 730 and 800, a small army of people had arrived to build a single 800ish sqft ranch style home.
Now its great that soooo many people were willing to donate their time and talent, but there wasn’t nearly enough work to go around. I stood around for an hour or two, doing nothing, before finally leaving.

Then, in 2005, I decided to donate $250 to H4H to help with Hurricane Katrina recovery. Over the following 4-5 years after making that donation, I recieved about $150 worth of mail from H4H. Each mailing was laden with address labels, note pads, and other marketing crap. I had to have received two mailings per month. I wrote to them on two occasions telling them that I was not interested in offering further support at the moment, and to please stop focusing financial resources on soliciting money from me. After 5yrs, I guess I automatically fell off their sucker list.

I won’t judge the entire organization based on my two experiences. And I wouldn’t discourage others from working with H4H. Its inarguable that H4H has served many poeple in need.
However, I got burned twice, so I’ll take it as a sign that H4H is not the right charity for me to work with.
I LOVE their restores though. I shop and donate there all the time.

Have your say...

You must be signed in to reply.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics