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Habitat for Humanity

26 Ratings: 4.4
A non-profit, ecumenical Christian housing ministry.

Habitat for Humanity International is a nonprofit, ecumenical Christian housing ministry. HFHI seeks to eliminate poverty housing and homelessness from the world and to make decent shelter a matter of conscience and action.    Habitat … see full wiki

1 review about Habitat for Humanity

A Volunteer's Guide to Habitat for Humanity

  • Oct 25, 2009
Habitat for Humanity can be an amazing hands-on service project, but make sure you know what you're getting into.

My review comes from a few experiences: a week spent with Habitat in Northern California and multiple one-day work sessions with Habitat of Southern Santa Barbara County.

Most people expect that if they volunteer with Habitat for Humanity, they'll be building a house. They're most often imagining the framing process -- hammering the home's wood skeleton together. Sometimes, that's what you're doing. But the homebuilding process is much longer than that. For example, here are tasks I've had while working with Habitat:
  • undoing the framing of a house after previous volunteers had bad measurements
  • siding
  • window framing
  • cutting boards
  • moving dirt
  • building a wooden fence
  • painting a metal fence
  • painting boards
  • surveying
To have a satisfying, productive and fun time with this organization, I provide the following tips.
  1. Be prepared for manual labor. This seems like a no-brainer, but this can be quite a wakeup call for inactive people.
  2. Dress for manual labor. Your clothes should be comfortable, layered, and ready to get dirty/stained.
  3. Stay hydrated.
  4. Take breaks and stretch when you need to.
  5. Ask lots of questions to make sure you're doing the right job the right way. 
  6. Be prepared for repetitive tasks.
  7. Become friends with the lead volunteers who are doling out the work so that you can get the cool projects.
How much do you need to know about construction? I'm not a carpenter, plumber or landscaper. I don't have an occupation or hobby that makes me a good fit for Habitat for Humanity. That's why I was amazed to find myself using power saws and crawling on scaffolding on my first Habitat project. You don't have to be an expert. You just have to listen when they teach you. They won't ask you to do anything you can't handle. If for some reason they do, just tell them you're not prepared to do it.

Why is this a good organization to volunteer for? There are few things more meaningful than helping a person get a home. And because the families that are chosen to live in Habitat homes have to contribute their own time in the form of "sweat equity" (which I think is at least 500 hours), you often get to work side-by-side with the people who will directly benefit from your labor. It's also the type of job that when you leave for the day, you can look and say "I did that." And whether "that" is bathroom tile or a future homeowner's smile, it's very satisfying.
Habitat for Humanity painting

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July 11, 2011
Most people know very little about home construction. The Habitat for Humanity is good experience which benefits people and provides badly needed skills for home repair.
October 23, 2010
Awesome review! My 77-year-old father has been volunteering with Habitat in New Orleans for the last several years and loves it. I told him, maybe they shouldn't have you up on the beams anymore and he said, I'll do whatever they need me to do to help out these families. It's so incredibly helpful to have all these tips as well. Thanks so much!
January 12, 2010
I must admit, the idea of families volunteering to help build another house after being given a home of their own is pretty inspiring. It just starts a chain of gratitude. Thanks for these tips, I've always wanted to volunteer for Habitat for Humanity. Now I know what to expect.
January 12, 2010
Fabulous review and congratulations on donating your time to such a worthy cause. Habitat For Humanity really does make a difference and I congratulate everyone who has helped them out over the past 25 years. Even if you are totally unskilled there are so many tasks that need to performed at a construction site. This allows the skilled workers to spend their time doing what they know best. Thanks for this wonderful insight!
January 12, 2010
A friend of mine did a semester helping out in NOLA to repair some Katrina damage. She is seriously like half the size of me so I figure if she can handle the manual labor, so can I! Her stories were very inspiring and this review just reaffirmed my desire to help out Habitat in the near future!! Thanks, great review!
January 04, 2010
I've only done a little work with habitat, but my parents do it all the time. It truly is a great experience and I respect everyone who gives their time to help others. Thanks for a great review and also for giving your time and volunteering.
January 04, 2010
I've been wanting to do a HoH project for years now - thanks for the reminder and really helpful tips!!
January 03, 2010
Thanks for sharing all these tips for this great volunteering opportunity! :)
November 12, 2009
I've always wondered what it was like to volunteer. I've seen them featured on televsion and they seem to be doing a lot of manual work! i would be nervous that i might mess something up. This review has given me a better picture of what it might be like, so thanks for sharing.

I'm actually crossing my fingers that Habitat for Humanity is part of Disneyland's new volunteering program!
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26 Ratings: +4.4
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