Why I Volunteer

by Kathy Vawter

I choose to volunteer with Habitat for Humanity because I have been a Habitat for Humanity homeowner since 1996.  When construction started on our house, I thought this was a really nice concept - having people come out and volunteer to help build our house.  I had no idea at the time how much this house would change our lives.

It didn’t take me long to realize what Habitat for Humanity was really all about.  Our house for my two daughters and myself was built by caring, compassionate people who wanted to help make our lives better. Volunteers showed up every Saturday for almost 10 months. Building our home was like a dream come true. We got to choose the carpet and paint colors.  Having our own home meant, well, just that, it would be our own.  We helped build it, the ownership would be ours and we were very proud of it.

As our house was being built I observed many miracles, not only in our lives but in the lives of other people who also got involved with Habitat for Humanity when our house was being built. I observed love in every nail that was pounded; excitement from the volunteers when the big truck poured concrete out of that big, huge funnel connected to the back of the truck; the excitement of my daughters when they painted their rooms; and how proud we were when we put imprints of our hands in the concrete, a tender reminder of that day every time I look at the imprints.  We experienced a real miracle on the day of our dedication when more than 125 people came and cheered us on and when, the next morning, I awoke at 2 a.m., got up and looked around the house just to see if it was all real or maybe just a dream.

After 17 years, I still volunteer with Habitat for Humanity because yes, I want to help eliminate poverty housing in the world, but I also want people to experience what we have experienced.  I want people to know the kindness of strangers and the love and hope that people have in their hearts to make people’s lives better by having a way to provide simple, decent, and affordable housing for everyone. We never take our home for granted, our house defines who we are because we helped build it and it is our own.  It will always be part of our lives, in the way we think and the way we act. Our home is absolutely beautiful, but in the big picture it’s not really all about houses.  It’s about changing the world, one family at a time.