Jim Laubenthal Volunteer Spotlight
After 30 plus years as a project manager with the Port of Portland, Jim Laubenthal decided it was finally time to retire. Apprehensive about leaving the structured work world, he began looking for ways to maintain structure, community and purpose in his daily life.
On the recommendation of former coworkers, Jim came out to build with Habitat for Humanity Portland/Metro East in 2007. He instantly loved the active, tangible hands-on experience that volunteering provided. Now, 7 years later, he has over 400 volunteer hours under his tool belt!
In his time with Habitat, Jim has been struck by stories future homeowners shared while building alongside him. With many Habitat homeowners coming from an immigrant background he has heard about life experiences from around the world.
“It really gives me a more well-rounded worldview,” said Jim. “It reminds me that if you think you’re having a rough day –you’re not! It’s hard to imagine the emotional strain some of these families go through in search of safety and opportunity.”
A vital part of the “Wednesday Regulars” crew –a group of mostly retired Portlanders who build consistently with Habitat– Jim has found structure, made great friends and helped to expand affordable housing options in the Portland area.
Most recently Jim came on board to help Habitat’s Interfaith Build. He is co-chairing a committee at his church, The Madeline Parish, to raise funds, awareness, and volunteer support for the Interfaith Build house, currently under construction at Habitat’s Trillium Court site in SW Portland. The house will be purchased by the Sabastian/Pascual family and become home to their three children. Jim is particularly moved by the impact housing has on children, after hearing a Centennial School District principal speak on the subject at a Habitat home dedication.
“Socialization is so important for kids as they grow up,” said Jim. “The constant change of moving makes it hard for them to be a successful student. I love that I get to help people who will really benefit from these homes.”
A valued volunteer, donor and Habitat Regular, Jim is making a lasting difference in his own life and in his community –something we are immeasurably thankful for.