“Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.”
This Fred Rogers quote isn’t attributed to volunteers – but at the same time, it kind of is. Think of a volunteer – someone who is contributing selflessly to help something bigger than themselves. They are usually contributing to an organization in a way that is priceless – and their return? The joy and fulfillment of helping someone and their community.
With Habitat for Humanity and the Habitat ReStores, this is no exception.
In case you haven’t visited a ReStore or heard about Habitat for Humanity, they are doing great things with the lifeblood of volunteerism: the organization has over 2,500+ annual volunteers giving their time, talent and energy, all towards the mission to bring people together to build homes, communities, and hope.
Assistant store manager of the Lewisville ReStore, Kim Marshall, understands how important volunteerism is to the success of Habitat. “At the ReStores, volunteers not only provide much-needed assistance with our day-to-day operations of receiving and processing donations, they also bring an abundant spirit of supporting Habitat Forsyth’s overall mission,” said Marshall.
This spirit is often captured in the volunteers and the people that recruit them: Debbie Cesta, who is in charge of volunteer recruitment and management, feels her work is so much more than a job because of the enthusiasm and changes she sees. “I really felt like I was led here, to do this work,” Cesta said. She also spoke about the changes she saw in people after they volunteer, specifically a group of high school-aged boys from a shelter. “The difference in them when they arrived and when they left was amazing. They worked together for others.”
Volunteer Julie Risher is a construction leader and part of the wood-working group, among other volunteer roles she fulfills with Habitat for Humanity of Forsyth County, and the positive impact is also something she connects with. “I have been blessed with advantages many families have not,” said Risher, “and volunteering allows me to express my gratitude and help someone else.” And help they do: Habitat for Humanity of Forsyth County has improved the place over 500 local families call home through homeownership or repairs since 1985, and they just recently added a Youth Empowerment Program (YEP!) to their training and education offerings. The new program engages underserved youth through community-based education, enrichment trips, mentoring programs, and volunteering at other local organizations.
If you’re sitting here thinking, “I can’t build a house!” just know that is what most Habitat volunteers say – until they do it and see that they’ll get really kind, patient and expert instruction from the Habitat construction staff. No experience is expected or necessary to volunteer with Habitat Forsyth and there are many options available – help build a house, help in one of the three ReStores (where gently used furniture, appliances, surplus building materials, and other items are sold at 25-75% off retail prices), or perhaps bring a dinner for student groups spending a week with Habitat on a service trip!
You’ll not only get to help but also learn new skills and meet a few folks along the way, like long time volunteer Karen Bass. “Volunteering has always been a part of my life. For me, it is an opportunity to meet new friends while helping those in my community. Since I have retired from the workforce, volunteering is a must,” said Bass. “I found a perfect fit for me at the Habitat Restore in Lewisville. There I can share my talents while making new friends and connecting with those in my community.” Aside from age restrictions (minimum 16 to help on a construction build, 14-15, and a parent guardian while volunteering at the ReStore), anyone can find a meaningful way to help in Habitat’s mission.
“The volunteers are a bright light of positivity and commitment and are essential to success,” said Kim Marshall, from the Lewisville ReStore. “We couldn’t do it without them.”
For more information the different ways to serve with Habitat for Humanity of Forsyth County visit habitatforsyth.org/getinvolved/volunteer.