Some folks look forward to retirement because they can finally take a break from work, kick off their shoes and relax. Others prefer to find work even after retirement and choose to spend some of their time volunteering. Last year, over 1,800 volunteers donated their time and energy to Habitat for Humanity Portland/Metro East. Habitat is lucky to have many retirees pick up their work boots and donate their time, with some volunteers sticking around for several years. Most volunteers help on the construction site building affordable housing, but some volunteer in the office or at Habitat’s ReStores.
Dick Firsich has been volunteering his time building homes with Habitat for 12 years and recently retired from Habitat’s Board of Directors after nine years of service. Last year, he traveled to El Salvador for a Global Village trip, digging trenches for a home’s cement foundation under the hot sun. “One of the best things is to see families’ eyes light up with excitement and express gratitude even when we don’t speak the same language,” says Dick.
After years spent working behind a desk, he enjoys staying active and learning new skills, whether in Portland or Central America.
Joe Tushner also enjoys the hands-on work and sense of camaraderie he’s developed with fellow volunteers over the past 13 years working with Habitat. “I needed something to do after retirement and Habitat give me a sense of purpose. I’ve met some great people over the years.” Joe has seen over 200 homes built and says that he admires that Habitat gives people a helping hand, not just a hand out.
A homeowner herself, Susan Barnett knows how important homeownership can be for a family. Susan has been volunteering regularly for nine years and said she has no plans of stopping anytime soon. “The housing crisis has been so bad and doesn’t seem to be getting any better. These programs are so important for people and I enjoy giving back.”
Garry Schuman started volunteering with Habitat as a way to network when he was looking for work, but continued to donate his time after he retired because he found the work to be so rewarding. “The cause is important. Someone has to help these families and I’m happy to be involved.” As a former project manager, Garry Schuman knows first-hand that construction can involve long days and battling the elements. When Garry joined Dick and the rest of the Global Village team on their recent trip to El Salvador, he was prepared for the long, hot days. Habitat’s Global Village program serves over 40 different countries and is a rewarding way for people to travel and experience another culture while helping provide a decent and affordable place to live.
For many Habitat volunteers, retirement is anything but boring. Some retirees travel around the country volunteering at different Habitat locations; these amazing folks have been given the name RV Care-A-Vanners. The great thing about volunteering with Habitat, retired or not, is that no experience is required. Many volunteers hammer their first nail on the Habitat build site. As a Habitat volunteer, people can become a resource for others in need while finding fulfilment after retirement.