Nine years ago, Kathi Rodgers was watching her usual morning TV news program when she saw a commercial that would change her life. Jimmy Carter was being interviewed and right before his segment the network aired a commercial about Carter’s involvement with Habitat for Humanity.
“I saw the commercial and then heard Jimmy talk about the Habitat program, and it seemed like a good way of giving back,” said Kathi.
Kathi was moved to action, calling up the Portland affiliate and becoming a Habitat volunteer. Nine years later, she is still going strong, volunteering two to three days a week. What is unique about Kathi’s situation is that she is legally blind, yet she has never let her disability dissuade her from wanting to volunteer with Habitat.
“I used to do everything on the build site,” said Kathi. “Framing, siding — you name it, I did it.”
As the years past, Kathi’s vision got a bit worse and it was no longer safe for her to work with construction equipment. But that didn’t stop her from making an impact in the community.
Kathi became a hospitality volunteer, helping construction volunteers sign in, keeping the coffee flowing and making everyone feel welcome and comfortable.
“A construction site can be an intimidating place for a lot of people,” said Nicole Patterson, Habitat Construction Supervisor. “Kathi is like having your mom at the site. She is an invaluable resource and key to creating the community we have out on site.”
Kathi’s dedication to Habitat continues to run deep. Although she lives in downtown Portland, she takes the two hour round trip MAX ride to our newest build site at southeast 171st and Division Street twice a week to volunteer. Habitat wanted to show Kathi just how much her hard work, positive attitude, and magnetic personality means to the organization. It made perfect sense to create Kathi’s Place, a mobile volunteer/hospitality center for site volunteers to use as a central check-in, first-aid and coffee hub.
“When Habitat mentioned they were going to name the new volunteer center after me, I thought it was a joke,” said Kathi. “Then I saw the sign and I was overwhelmed with joy. Habitat has enriched my life. I don’t have a lot of money to donate, so it is a great way for me to give back to the community. At the end of each month, volunteering with Habitat makes me feel very rich.”