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Economic Development
Jul 15, 2014

Weekly Warriors

Sponsored Content provided by Steve Spain - Executive Director, Cape Fear Habitat For Humanity

What are you doing next Wednesday, Thursday or Saturday?

Those are the days that individual volunteers and groups work on Habitat for Humanity construction projects. Most of the Wednesday and Thursday volunteers, and some of the Saturday ones, come out every single week to help us build. They are our “Weekly Warriors.” They strap on their helmets (hard hats) and fight the good fight, from the trenches (digging the foundation footings) to the ramparts (installing roof trusses and sheathing). They come out in any weather, take on any task that needs to be done, and share their considerable wit and wisdom with Habitat homeowners and staff. They are the unsung heroes of the battle to increase the stock of safe, decent and affordable housing in the Cape Fear region. 

You might wonder: what kind of people would work for free in the heat of summer and the cold of winter to build someone else a house? I did, too, so I asked some of our regulars to tell me a little about themselves and their experiences volunteering with Habitat. Some of them became construction regulars as recently as 2014, while others have been giving their time for more than a decade. One has been volunteering on site for 17 years. We have a lawyer and an electrician, a nurse and a long haul trucker, a consultant and a law enforcement officer, a contractor and program chief at the CDC, and a whole assortment of other professions from every walk of life. Building a Habitat house isn’t exactly rocket science, but if it was … we’ve got an aerospace engineer on board to help!

You probably won’t be surprised to learn that our Weekly Warriors don’t limit their community service to Habitat. Among the other organizations they assist: Boys & Girls Clubs, Cape Fear Literacy Council, Cape Fear River Watch, Heart Walk, New Hanover County Arboretum, Rotary, Tileston Outreach Food Bank, Wilmington Area Rebuilding Ministry, Work on Wilmington, and dozens of local churches. Quite a few have worked for Habitat affiliates in other locations, too, including Illinois, Louisiana, Michigan and New Jersey – not to mention El Salvador. 

The only compensation that our Weekly Warriors receive is the knowledge that they help hard-working families become first-time buyers of affordable homes – that and the on-site meal and snacks. Lunch might be prepared by other volunteers, donated by a local restaurant or caterer, or purchased by a house sponsor. Some of the favorites among the regulars are Mexican food, pizza and Italian, sloppy joes, homemade macaroni and cheese, and Subway. But the hands-down, most appreciated lunch is Construction Manager Esmond Anderson’s wild-caught grilled venison (in season only)!

One of the best parts about being a Weekly Warrior is the opportunity to see a house through from ground-breaking to dedication, and to get to know the future homeowner along the way. Here are a few comments from our regulars about the homeowners:

  •  “Right from the start I was duly impressed with her hard work, dedication, skill, gratefulness, her ever-upbeat attitude, and indomitable faith.”
  • “At the dedication, she asked her parents, grandparents and all her other relatives if anyone in their family had ever owned a home. That night, she would be the first person in her family who ever owned their own home.”
  • “He is a devoted father, husband, and is a hard worker. We laugh, joke, and he is fun to be around.”
  • “The grandmother raising her grandchild came out to another site, after we had finished her home, and served us a home-cooked lunch.”
  • “She was so enthusiastic and positive about her family and her goal of owning a house. She did her sweat equity super-fast and helped other homeowners after her requirement was done.”
Of course it’s not all puppy dogs, unicorns and lemonade on endless, lazy summer days. The Weekly Warriors put a lot of heart and sweat into building high-quality, affordable homes. They scale ladders and work from scaffolding; lug and lift roof trusses into place; dig trenches in ground that is sometimes more tree roots and rocks then dirt and sand; raise walls; run wires and pipe; and – oh, yeah – pick up trash from the job site. 

Still, they come every week. Maybe it’s the camaraderie of working side by side with other volunteers and future homeowners. Perhaps it’s the satisfaction of helping to build a stronger community. Maybe it is Esmond’s venison. Possibly it’s hearing each other’s stories: about the scientist who met the former spy he would later marry while working on a Habitat site, or the former youth basketball coach who groomed an 8-year-old Derek Fisher, who today is a star in the NBA. Whatever it is, they keep on coming. And there’s always room for more.

So I ask again. What are you doing next Wednesday, Thursday or Saturday?

Steve Spain is the Executive Director of Cape Fear Habitat for Humanity. Over the last 25 years, CFHFH has provided first-time homeownership opportunities to more than 150 families and currently builds a dozen new houses a year. To explore volunteer or sponsorship opportunities or to learn more about Cape Fear Habitat for Humanity’s programs, visit www.capefearhabitat.org. Contact Mr. Spain at [email protected]. Like CFHFH on Facebook: www.facebook.com/capefearhabitat.

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