Join Early Retirement Today
Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
Habitat for Humanity questions
Old 11-09-2007, 10:44 AM   #1
Moderator Emeritus
Nords's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2002
Location: Oahu
Posts: 26,616
Habitat for Humanity questions

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sarah in SC View Post
... when I worked for Habitat for Humanity.
Sarah, if you don't mind the personal question from your comments in the other thread...

HFH has been on my list of "someday when I have the time I'll volunteer". For nearly a decade I've read their e-mails, followed the struggles of the local chapters with/against the Americus staff, and talked to other volunteers. But I've never heard from any HFH staff.

I've volunteered with other non-profits and my expectations are dialed way down. Yet except for the usual local/HQ issues involved in HFH's chapter struggles, everything I read & hear is positive. I may be paranoid, but this seems too easy and there's gotta be a catch.

What advice would you have for new volunteers starting out at their local chapter? Anything in particular that one should do or avoid?
__________________

__________________
*
*

The book written on E-R.org, "The Military Guide to Financial Independence and Retirement", on sale now! For more info see "About Me" in my profile.
I don't spend much time here anymore, so please send me a PM. Thanks.
Nords is offline   Reply With Quote
Join the #1 Early Retirement and Financial Independence Forum Today - It's Totally Free!

Are you planning to be financially independent as early as possible so you can live life on your own terms? Discuss successful investing strategies, asset allocation models, tax strategies and other related topics in our online forum community. Our members range from young folks just starting their journey to financial independence, military retirees and even multimillionaires. No matter where you fit in you'll find that Early-Retirement.org is a great community to join. Best of all it's totally FREE!

You are currently viewing our boards as a guest so you have limited access to our community. Please take the time to register and you will gain a lot of great new features including; the ability to participate in discussions, network with our members, see fewer ads, upload photographs, create a retirement blog, send private messages and so much, much more!

Old 11-09-2007, 10:55 AM   #2
Full time employment: Posting here.
 
Join Date: Oct 2007
Location: Willamette Valley, Oregon
Posts: 831
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nords View Post
Sarah, if you don't mind the personal question from your comments in the other thread...

HFH has been on my list of "someday when I have the time I'll volunteer". For nearly a decade I've read their e-mails, followed the struggles of the local chapters with/against the Americus staff, and talked to other volunteers. But I've never heard from any HFH staff.

I've volunteered with other non-profits and my expectations are dialed way down. Yet except for the usual local/HQ issues involved in HFH's chapter struggles, everything I read & hear is positive. I may be paranoid, but this seems too easy and there's gotta be a catch.

What advice would you have for new volunteers starting out at their local chapter? Anything in particular that one should do or avoid?
If I may offer a few comments to your questions directed to Sarah:

HFH has been very active in my neck of the woods. I have nothing but good to say about them. This is really a program where 2 + 2 = 5. There is a real synergy about it.

I have been both a monetary donor, as well as worked labor hands on in building homes---and I use the word "home" in the best and deepest sense.

You can't go wrong being involved either through hands on labor, or monetary gifts, or otherwise volunteering time to this program.
__________________

__________________
Dreams Worth Dreaming are Dreams Worth Planning For. I Spent a Career Planning for Early Retirement.
RetireeRobert is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-09-2007, 11:04 AM   #3
Full time employment: Posting here.
Sandy's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2006
Location: Florida
Posts: 855
Our local HFH has had so many hands on volunteers, they have turned people away.
__________________
I would not have anyone adopt my mode of living...but I would have each one be very careful to find out and pursue his own way, and not his father's or his mother's or his neighbor's instead. Thoreau, Walden
Sandy is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-09-2007, 11:59 AM   #4
Moderator
Sarah in SC's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2005
Location: Charleston, SC
Posts: 13,456
Habitat affiliates are very individual, and most are only as good as the quality of the staff. I worked for the 3rd largest in the country, building more than 25 houses a year. It was run like a business, for the most part. That appealed to me, as I'm not so much into the warm and fuzzy, but poorly run, type of nonprofit.

The program itself is sound, and the national folks in Americus take a big bite out of the affiliate's revenue, think franchise. The guy they booted as CEO (Millard Fuller) was a Perv, though, no doubt about it. The stories we heard through the grapevine!

Depending on the rules of your particular Habitat affiliate, you can become disillusioned by the way applicants are selected. I remember thinking that we were really punishing two parent, both working folks, since the income max was so low. I knew of several homeowners who gamed the system by booting out Dad in order to qualify, then once the house was built, having him move back in.

Upside: I really enjoyed working with the homeowners in doing their sweat equity. I also liked meeting the volunteers that came through, folks that were really committed to doing some good in their spare time. We were positioned in a rural community, adjacent to very wealthy resort areas and as a result had gobs of money flowing in.
Downside: the (to me) relatively oppressive Christian leadership. I remember the boss coming into our place and throwing away donated books if they had any reference to Muslim or Pagan religions. And he told anti-Catholic jokes. But that was not "party-line" stuff, and no one besides the boss was like that.

I think your mileage will vary. If your local affiliate is a good one, well managed and run for volunteers to get the most out of the experience, you will have a great time. If it isn't, then I'd say find another non-p to support. I can say that the concept is good, and it was gratifying to work in a helping environment.
__________________
“One day your life will flash before your eyes. Make sure it's worth watching.”
Gerard Arthur Way

Sarah in SC is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-09-2007, 01:17 PM   #5
Recycles dryer sheets
 
Join Date: Jun 2005
Posts: 282
My Dad has volunteered on maybe 15 houses so far. He has building experience from building the two family homes I grew up in, so he kind of acts as a "crew leader". He is not the main site supervisor, but will be the leader of a group of other volunteers, making sure they know the proper way to do things and just basically assuring that the tasks he is in charge of get finished properly.

I went and worked with him once when I was home for a visit and it was a good day. Everybody just pitches in and gets stuff done, there's a nice spirit of working together for a cause you know is making a big, lasting difference.

I was actually astounded that Dad didn't yell at any of the other volunteers the way he always yells at his own kids when we are working under his direction. I guess Habitat just brings out the best in everybody.
__________________
igsoy is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-09-2007, 04:42 PM   #6
Give me a museum and I'll fill it. (Picasso)
Give me a forum ...
 
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 11,615
The "Rebuilding Together" charity (formerly known as "Christmas in April") is similar to HFH in some ways. Their emphasis is on doing badly needed rehab/fix-up projects on the homes of needy people. Most of the supplies are donated and the volunteers come from just regular folks as well as tradesmen. Unlike HFH, the homeowner doesn't have to provide sweat equity and there's no financial/mortgage aspect to it. I've heard good things about it--they swoop in on a needy person's home (typically a day in April is chosen) and make the fixes needed to make the home safe and comfortable again. By the end of the day there's a new coat of paint on the place, they've built a needed wheelchair ramp, the toilets works, the leaky pipes under the sink are fixed, the rotted floor has been replaced, the roof is repaired, the windows are caulked and there's sufficient insulation in the ceiling to cut Grandma's outrageous heating bill by 40%. That family's quality of life has been drastically enhanced in a single day. It appeals to me because I'll be able to learn some rehab/maintenance skills from the pros and I'd be able to make an impact immediately. The group in my town did 26 homes on April 28th of last year. But, no, I haven't jumped in yet, so I don't have any firsthand experience.

Rebuilding Together: About Us
__________________
"Freedom begins when you tell Mrs. Grundy to go fly a kite." - R. Heinlein
samclem is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 11-09-2007, 05:06 PM   #7
Give me a museum and I'll fill it. (Picasso)
Give me a forum ...
travelover's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 9,880
I've worked with Habitat on and off for over 10 years - worked there today, in fact. My experience is that they often have more willing volunteers than can be adequately supervised, so I often jump into that role to maximize output and job safety.

I greatly enjoy working with the volunteers and future habitat home owners, which makes it much more personal than simply writing a check to a faceless charity.

Our local chapters also have a store (called ReStore) that sells used and donated new construction merchandise. It is a fleas pickers dream for finding bargain supplies for home projects.

Now Habitat builds mostly new houses locally (as opposed to rehabbing old houses) , so the tasks are everything from framing to finish carpentry, wiring, plumbing, landscape, concrete, painting - the whole process.

Overall, I'm really happy with them. Initially there was more religious emphasis, with some coercion to pray, but I have not seen that lately.
__________________
Yes, I have achieved work / life balance.
travelover is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 11-09-2007, 05:35 PM   #8
Thinks s/he gets paid by the post
Goonie's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2006
Location: North-Central Illinois
Posts: 3,198
Quote:
Originally Posted by samclem View Post
The "Rebuilding Together" charity (formerly known as "Christmas in April") is similar to HFH in some ways. Their emphasis is on doing badly needed rehab/fix-up projects on the homes of needy people. Most of the supplies are donated and the volunteers come from just regular folks as well as tradesmen. Unlike HFH, the homeowner doesn't have to provide sweat equity and there's no financial/mortgage aspect to it. I've heard good things about it--they swoop in on a needy person's home......That family's quality of life has been drastically enhanced in a single day.
We've had a few HFH homes built here in the last several years. I think it's great, and though I haven't been able to do 'hands on' yet, I have donated to it. Sometime when they do another one, I'll probably volunteer on it.

Like samclem's post on "Rebuilding Together", we have an annual "Labor of Love" in (IIRC) September. They choose 25 to 30 homes that need a load of TLC, and then each one is assigned a 'house captain' (usually someone in the building trades) and a small army of volunteers. The volunteers are mostly 'unskilled' labor but there are also many trades people mixed in too. There might be anywhere from 10 to 30 people at each house, working from the top of the roof to bottom of the basement. Cleaning, painting, repairing, replacing......whatever needs to be done. Most of the work is done in one day, though occasionally some of the house captains and some of the volunteers will start during the week before and/or finish up during the week after.

The people whose homes are worked on, are thrilled to death, and really show their appreciation. My widowed great-aunt has been a "Labor of Love" recipient several times, and she is always just overwhelmed by the fact that folks who don't even know her will take their time to help her!

The HFH recipients here are the same way....VERY appreciative!
__________________
Goonie is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-10-2007, 08:56 AM   #9
Recycles dryer sheets
Jeb-NY's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2005
Location: North Coast of NY
Posts: 269
I have been involved with our local HfH affiliate for 20+ years in many capacities, many of those years on the board. We are a very small affiliate, no paid staff and we usually do 1 house per year. A few good years we did 2.

Great organization always need more help, especially on committees and the board. We have pretty good luck getting workers out to do construction but it takes as many hours behind the scenes to keep the organization going, pick families, nurture families, find land, etc, as it does to build a house.

Maybe it is because of our size but International doesn't bother us much. They do ask (not demand) a 10% tithe on our donations to build homes in 3rd world countries. None of this money goes to the International overhead, they get that from their own fund raising.

HfH is a religious organization but, at least in our affiliate, it is pretty low key. I have seen no bias between religious groups or the absents of religion in getting volunteers or selecting families for homes. Almost half of our funding comes from local churches. We have enough homes up now that the money being paid back in mortgages is also a large portion of our income. The rest is raised from individuals and a few fund raisers.

HfH does require swear equity as part of the down payment we require 400 hours by the family and their friends. They do have to have enough income to pay a mortgage including insurance and taxes. Cost is the materials we use in building the house with no interest, no labor (unless we have to hire a tradesman for something) and no profit. In our area you would be hard pressed to rent a one room apartment for what their mortgage cost is for a 3 bedroom home.

Jeb
__________________
Jeb-NY is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-10-2007, 09:03 AM   #10
Give me a museum and I'll fill it. (Picasso)
Give me a forum ...
travelover's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 9,880
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jeb-NY View Post
........... HfH does require swear equity as part of the down payment we require 400 hours by the family and their friends. .............
Jeb

I think you meant sweat equity. The swear equity comes form the volunteers!
__________________
Yes, I have achieved work / life balance.
travelover is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 11-11-2007, 03:36 PM   #11
Full time employment: Posting here.
 
Join Date: Apr 2005
Posts: 577
HFH in my area can't use the volunteers who come to volunteer. Many of their houses are sponsored by various Corps that provide money and volunteers. Given that, I often wonder why they don't do more.
__________________
kat is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-11-2007, 06:43 PM   #12
Thinks s/he gets paid by the post
 
Join Date: May 2006
Location: Largo
Posts: 1,945
I was part of an all woman HFH crew (except for the plumber) that built a house in Cincinnati. It was a wonderful experience. I grew up in a small, dilapidated house. Owning a nice home has motivated me to get a good education and good jobs but no house I have purchased provided me as much satisfaction as the house I helped build for a family in need.
__________________
Buckeye is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-12-2007, 09:31 AM   #13
Recycles dryer sheets
Jeb-NY's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2005
Location: North Coast of NY
Posts: 269
Quote:
Originally Posted by travelover View Post
I think you meant sweat equity. The swear equity comes form the volunteers!
Ah you caught me, I was thinking of the board meetings when we are trying to figure out how to get some families to finish their sweat equity.

Jeb
__________________
Jeb-NY is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-12-2007, 09:45 AM   #14
Give me a museum and I'll fill it. (Picasso)
Give me a forum ...
travelover's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 9,880
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jeb-NY View Post
Ah you caught me, I was thinking of the board meetings when we are trying to figure out how to get some families to finish their sweat equity.

Jeb
Our local Habitat allows friends and family to contribute sweat equity hours to the house recipient. One of the craftier recipients has been canvassing the regular volunteers to contribute their hours as a "friend". I think that is gonna get shut down quickly.
__________________
Yes, I have achieved work / life balance.
travelover is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 11-12-2007, 10:04 AM   #15
Recycles dryer sheets
Jeb-NY's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2005
Location: North Coast of NY
Posts: 269
Quote:
Originally Posted by travelover View Post
Our local Habitat allows friends and family to contribute sweat equity hours to the house recipient. One of the craftier recipients has been canvassing the regular volunteers to contribute their hours as a "friend". I think that is gonna get shut down quickly.
We have a limit beyond the immediate family, how many can be working for the family. I think it is around 4-6.

Jim...
__________________
Jeb-NY is offline   Reply With Quote
JCWP Los Angeles
Old 11-15-2007, 04:16 PM   #16
Thinks s/he gets paid by the post
 
Join Date: Jul 2003
Location: Pasadena CA
Posts: 2,695
JCWP Los Angeles

My wife & I worked on the HFH Jimmy Carter Work Project Los Angeles, a couple weeks ago. I think the JCWP is HFHs annual 'big project', literally hundreds of people came in and built 60 homes in a week and refurbed 250 others. The energy is wonderful. Last year the JCWP was in India & next year it is the Gulf Coast. If I retire in March 08 as planned DW &I may end up on the project. In Los Angeles in general on local projects there are more volunteers than can be used. Never felt much religious push, but this is LA and very diverse place. In fact it was announced that HFH built one building funded by a Jewish agency and the recipient was a Muslim.
One thing that really endeared my to HFH is that we took draged my younger son while in high school on a rehab project. The site manager took him under his wing and had him cutting, nailing, and generally being productive. It was a great experience for him.
Anyway, thre are small local projects and larger projects and international projects, take your pick. I understand that the statistics are that in 25 years HFH has built 250,000(!!) houses in 90 different countries. There is, IMHO, a bit more 'overhead' than some lean charities I work with (Heifer Project & Big Brothers ) but is a well run agency, they get both time & money from me.
__________________
T.S. Eliot:
Old men ought to be explorers
yakers is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 11-25-2007, 06:03 PM   #17
Recycles dryer sheets
 
Join Date: Nov 2005
Posts: 355
When HFH started in my community, I worked as unskilled labor on house #1. That homeowner was a single mom who worked both a weekday and a weekend job. When HFH was struggling to find land for house #2, I donated a home site. The pool of applicants was small since few needy believed that anyone would help them get a new house. The homeowners of #2 needed money management training e.g. they ate out or ordered pizza delivered because it was not "easy" to cook after work. The entire family of house #4, including the pre-schooolers, helped with the fund raising spaghetti dinners for house #3. The pre-schoolers' work hours also counted towards the sweat equity. The mom mentioned that they had finished their 400 hours of sweat equity and that their house had not yet been built. I marveled at her sense of entitlement while I was washing the dishes at those dinners. Local HFH is focussed on making the housing better for the kids. I now view HFH as welfare for adults who really need training and knowledge, and giving them housing will not fix their true needs, nor help their kids learn to live within their means. All of the home recipients drove as new or newer vehicles than the retired HFH volunteers. HFH is a good idea but not all of those homeowners are as deserving as you might expect.
__________________
heyyou is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-25-2007, 06:16 PM   #18
Give me a museum and I'll fill it. (Picasso)
Give me a forum ...
clifp's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2006
Posts: 7,450
I've always hestitate to volunteer for HFH, because driving a nail into a board, generally results in 2 bents nails, 1 broken thumbnail, loud cursing, and search on craigslist for a handyman.

Is there stuff you can do for HFH that doesn't require mechanical skills?
__________________
clifp is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-25-2007, 07:01 PM   #19
Moderator Emeritus
Nords's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2002
Location: Oahu
Posts: 26,616
Quote:
Originally Posted by heyyou View Post
All of the home recipients drove as new or newer vehicles than the retired HFH volunteers. HFH is a good idea but not all of those homeowners are as deserving as you might expect.
I've never considered that perspective. I've always thought of good organizations trying to do good things for people without really caring one way or the other whether they were helping good people. I guess my feeling is that I'm making an effort to help someone and the morals/quality of the recipient is irrelevant. But it could sure be a pain if they're not the kind of people whose behavior one appreciates.

I wonder if the recipients were living in those vehicles... or at family/shelter homes.

Quote:
Originally Posted by clifp View Post
I've always hestitate to volunteer for HFH, because driving a nail into a board, generally results in 2 bents nails, 1 broken thumbnail, loud cursing, and search on craigslist for a handyman.
Heck, as I tell my 15-year-old, we all gotta learn somewhere. Although I'm not standing near you if you get your hands on a nail gun!
__________________
*
*

The book written on E-R.org, "The Military Guide to Financial Independence and Retirement", on sale now! For more info see "About Me" in my profile.
I don't spend much time here anymore, so please send me a PM. Thanks.
Nords is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-25-2007, 08:09 PM   #20
Give me a museum and I'll fill it. (Picasso)
Give me a forum ...
travelover's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 9,880
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nords View Post
.........Heck, as I tell my 15-year-old, we all gotta learn somewhere. Although I'm not standing near you if you get your hands on a nail gun!
This is a valid point - I've found it necessary to watch other volunteers closely. I usually wear steel toed boots and a construction helmet, when practical. One time I moved a 10 foot step ladder and the claw hammer someone had left sitting on the top whistled past my head.
__________________

__________________
Yes, I have achieved work / life balance.
travelover is online now   Reply With Quote
Reply


Currently Active Users Viewing This Thread: 1 (0 members and 1 guests)
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off


Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
ER Planning Questions joyfulbob FIRE and Money 15 06-04-2007 12:00 AM
Questions Tiger Forum Admin 2 05-23-2007 12:07 PM
Habitat for Humanity-- internationally Nords Other topics 11 07-27-2006 10:31 PM
New guy with questions Pale Rider Hi, I am... 5 06-23-2006 06:57 PM

 

 
All times are GMT -6. The time now is 10:51 PM.
 
Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 1
Copyright ©2000 - 2017, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.