Step into the Habitat office and you just might be greeted by William Cunninghame’s friendly smile. He welcomes staff and visitors every Wednesday afternoon as the volunteer front desk receptionist. He also lends his skills to both the Development and Homeownership teams, aiding with data entry for our annual events and yearly homeownership application process.
Raised in a small town, William learned the value of helping others at a young age. His parents owned and operated the town’s general store, the go-to place with all the essentials for residents of the sleepy northern California town. It also served as the town’s post office, where his father was post master. William’s mother was a social justice worker who encouraged her family to advocate for those less fortunate, something that has stuck with him to this day.
“I always gain more than I contribute and my time with Habitat continues that education.”
For William, volunteering at Habitat gives him the chance to stay active and engaged in his community. He first started volunteering with Habitat in 2010 as a construction volunteer, donating his time and energy at many different build sites around Portland. William describes the benefits of volunteering, saying “I always gain more than I contribute and my time with Habitat continues that education.”
As part of his lifelong dedication to expanding his horizons, two weeks after retiring from a nearly 40-year career in the banking industry, William embarked on the famed Camino de Santiago, a five week, 500-mile pilgrimage across northern Spain. This trek is part of a large network of ancient routes that fan across Europe, coming together at the tomb of St. James. Williams says of his journey, “It was one of the most physically, psychologically, and spiritually demanding and rewarding adventures of my life.”
William’s passion for fostering community is evident not only through his dedication to his church, First Unitarian, and his housing community, Daybreak Cohousing, but also through his interactions with others. Moving to Portland in 2000 allowed him the chance to reconnect with family, and make great friends in the process. With Steve, his partner of 14 years, at his side, William continues to learn from and cherish this community he calls home.