Joni Portmann is no stranger to paying it forward. After a fire raged through her family’s coastal dairy farm as a child, neighbors gathered every day to help them rebuild—even after working full days on their own farms. A year ago and on the brink of retirement from her 36-year-long career as a dental hygienist, Joni gravitated toward Habitat’s booth at a Pioneer Courthouse Square volunteer fair, the memory of her neighbors’ generosity stuck in her mind. She quickly signed up to learn more about volunteer opportunities.
“Shortly after the first episode of bad weather this winter, I received an email from Habitat asking if I would be willing to volunteer. As much as I hated that freezing rain and snow, I’d like to think it served as a bit of divine intervention guiding me to finally commit to volunteering with Habitat.”
Inspired by the “barn raising” philosophy of her youth, Joni started volunteering with Habitat at the beginning of 2017 and is already a much loved regular. Greeting every day with a smile on her face, she shares her good humor and delicious baked goods with onsite staff and volunteers. Joni says her weekly volunteer day is “easily the best day of my week.” When she’s not driving in fence posts or installing exterior siding with Habitat, Joni enjoys golfing and rooting for her favorite football team, the Oregon State Beavers. She also donates her time to other nonprofits such as SnowCap Community Charities.
“To see a raw construction site transform into someone’s actual home, knowing a bit of my sweat equity played a part, is something I feel proud of,” says Joni. She hopes to continue volunteering for as many years as possible, and to finally nail that hole-in-one.