Pete Conklin grew up watching his father’s hands; from carpentry to engineering, they worked tirelessly and inspired in Pete something he would carry with him the rest of his life—a passion for creating. With a hardy work ethic, Pete taught himself the knowledge and skills that would eventually lead to many things, from tinkering on his own home to a career as an engineer in the aerospace industry. Since moving to Portland fifteen years ago with his wife and young son, Pete has worked as a stay-at-home dad and dedicated his time to volunteering with his son’s school communities.
On his son’s grade school playground, Pete befriended the grandfather of one of his son’s classmates—a regular volunteer with Habitat. In 2012, Pete joined his friend as a construction volunteer and after a short hiatus, has been a regular at Habitat’s Helensview site since January 2017. A hard worker with a humble streak, Pete jokingly lists the tasks he’s done as a volunteer, “I’ve hit my thumb with a hammer. I’ve gotten paint on my clothes. I’ve gotten my hands completely covered with caulk. I’ve driven a wheelbarrow. I’ve gotten dirt under my fingernails planting sod and I’ve washed windows”. Pete, good-natured with an easy smile, adds much value to our construction team.
Volunteering with Habitat allows each person to become part of the partner families’ journeys to homeownership. Pete says, “I am always amazed and awed by the families’ determination and strength in the face of often difficult circumstances. By volunteering my time and skills, I hope that I can somehow make things just a little bit easier for them […] I see the houses, now full of life and buzzing with energy and I feel proud to be able to say, ‘I helped build that house.”
When he’s not swinging a hammer or planting sod with his Habitat crew, Pete enjoys spending time with his wife and son. He and his wife have adventured many places together—to the mountains, desert, snow and water—something he looks forward to doing in the future, but as he jokes, “just more slowly”.