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Like many volunteers, Delaney arrived at Habitat for Humanity’s build site in the Cully neighborhood with no prior construction experience, but after volunteering with us for a month she gained confidence in skills already embedded within her.

After assessing the job market and realizing that her degree in graphic design would land her in an overpopulated pool of designers grabbing for the same position, she decided to take a break from her education and look into a trade. Electrical work caught her interest.

“On one hand, graphic design and electrical work couldn’t be more different,” Delaney said. “But on the other hand, the skills you use for graphic design are the same skills you use as an electrician: it’s all about creative problem solving.”

As she awaited her slot for an apprenticeship, she volunteered with us weekly; getting to know how to use construction-based tools, enhance problem solving skills, and work collaboratively as a team.

“The construction crew leaders make it so easy,” she said. “Now, if someone asked me to install a window, I know I could do it.”

On one of her last days on site, Delaney had the opportunity to lead a new volunteer in window installation. Although unsure, she guided her partner through the process and completed the job without any hiccups.

“It was awesome,” Delaney said. “Learning these skills will help me when I become a homeowner. I got to work with a homebuyer too – and I just think the program is great: it teaches skills necessary to maintain your own home.”

Although she acknowledges that homeownership is hard to come by as a Millennial, with housing costs still out of reach for many, it’s something she still desires. She grew up in a home built by her grandparents and recognizes the wealth and pride in taking care of a place you can call your own.

Habitat’s presence in her life took hold at a young age. Having grown up around Newberg, she saw the build sites around town, had a high school friend who lived in a Habitat home, and bought her first couch for her college apartment from a Habitat for Humanity ReStore. Experiencing a taste of the challenges in working to pay for rent while attending college, she empathizes with those going through the same thing.

“I see a lot of people struggling,” she said. “It’s hard for the majority of people who work a regular job to pay for housing; rent is ridiculous right now. Having experienced it myself, it makes me feel for the families who are having to go through that. It made me want to put my hand in help out.”

As Delaney continues to strengthen her electrician skills, she enjoys learning new things and helping out her community. If she ever returns to school, she’d like to continue to develop her love of web design and coding in graphic design.

“It’s really smart to have a couple tools in your tool belt,” she said.

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