Before Nathan was building duplexes and triplexes with Habitat for Humanity, he was crafting espressos by day and reading scripture by night. In addition to his pastoral work, he wanted to become more heavily involved in his community so he tossed the barista apron aside and signed up for AmeriCorps.
His very first build site was a 25-home community in Southeast Portland that would become Glisan Gardens. He woke up each morning excited to meet volunteers who came together from all over the city to help build homes right alongside homebuyers.
“It was such a diverse community,” Nathan says. “I remember going in every morning and greeting each homebuyer in their native language.”
He cherished every day; building relationships with an array of volunteers–from community service to retirement. For Nathan, it was a new form of ministry that went both ways. Working side-by-side with people from all walks of life to build neighborhoods from the ground up–he was learning just as much as he was teaching.
“While many of our volunteers may not have a lot of previous construction skills, they come with a wealth of knowledge from their own lives,” Nathan says. “I teach them how to install flooring and they teach me about about investing in my future.”
One day, he received two beekeeper suits from a volunteer named Stuart who had heard of Nathan’s interest in beekeeping throughout the years. It was an unexpected gift that did not go to waste. Now Nathan and his wife, Sara, tend to a strong colony of bees in their backyard. Every year, they harvest gallons of honey to share with family and friends.
He says the reward of working with Habitat volunteers start on the build site and grow from there; it’s all about mutual-respect and contributing joined efforts into bettering the lives around them.
His favorite part of leading people is that lightbulb moment when they realize all the work they accomplished on the construction site can be applied at home. He relishes instilling that confidence and self-awareness of skills already embedded within them. All they need is someone to light the path.
Now five years in, Nathan continues to connect people to Habitat’s mission as an Assistant Site Supervisor at Cully Place, a 15-home community in Northeast Portland.
“There’s so much that goes into building these homes,” he says. “Habitat is my flock; this is my community.”