BY KRISTI FISH | MIRROR REPORTER — Many organizations, locally and nationally, rely on volunteers to function, and their efforts are being recognized this month.
April is National Volunteer Awareness Month, but the importance of volunteers is known and appreciated constantly at Maumee Valley Habitat for Humanity (MVHFH).
“Our volunteers are the best,” said Kelly Davis, MVHFH’s volunteer manager. “Volunteering is a selfless act. We see the dedication, and the volunteers that we do have – the core crew – they’ve been giving their time to Habitat for Humanity for decades.”
Volunteers are not compensated for their time with money. Instead, they donate their energy because they believe in the mission and have a passion for helping others, Davis said.
Davis, who started out as a volunteer in 2019 for Habitat for Humanity, wants those in the community to know that volunteering is important to both MVHFH and to the community in general. It is important, if individuals are so inclined, to act on the desire to volunteer, she said.
“The experience is priceless,” Davis said. “I understand that time is fleeting and we don’t have enough, but I guarantee if you’re able to carve a couple of hours out of your day to come and assist someone else, without expectation, you’re going to get so much more in return.”
As volunteer manager, Davis holds Zoom meetings with new volunteers and helps them through the process. One thing she likes to emphasize is the experience, skills and knowledge that volunteers will walk away with.
She wants the volunteers to walk away from each experience with the knowledge that they can do hard things and that they are capable of learning a new skill and helping others.
There are many ways to volunteer with MVHFH, depending on time commitment and age.
“Our volunteer opportunities consist of three sections I like to put them in,” Davis said. “We have special events, construction and playhouse build.”
Under special events are things like ReStore the Earth, Rock the Block and the Playhouse Blitz Build.
“Our ReStore the Earth, that’s on Saturday, April 16,” Davis said. “It’s our recycling event.”
Rock the Block is a neighborhood cleanup initiative that happens three times a year. MVHFH selects three neighborhoods – two in the summer and one in fall – and organizes a group of volunteers to do small projects around the neighborhood.
The projects can include any number of small outside tasks, such as landscaping, gutter repair, raking, debris cleanup and more. These typically take place on a Saturday from 8:30 a.m. to around 1:00 p.m. The more volunteers who participate, the sooner the group finishes.
“Then, what we have is Blitz Build, which we do every summer,” Davis said. “This year, it’s June 2. We have 30 corporations and we build 30 playhouses in five hours at Fifth Third Field to gift to area children.”
To prepare for a special event like the Blitz Build, another kind of volunteering is necessary. Playhouse building kits are one of many ways volunteers can assist at MVHFH. It is especially suited for volunteers who have time during the week.
Construction projects, like the home construction many people think of when they think of Habitat for Humanity, typically take place between 8:30 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. during the week.
Explained Davis, “8:30 a.m. is when the safety talk happens, and it’s important that a volunteer is there at 8:30, just to hear all about the safety issues and hazards that could be involved in that workday.”
Home construction, however, is not something people have to have prior experience in to volunteer. Site supervisors are there each day to walk everyone through the steps and help them with each project.
To participate in volunteering projects like home constructions, volunteers must be 18 years old and up, but there are opportunities for kids, too.
“When it comes to youth, we have a do-it-yourself project where a youth can pick a project and then, once completed, they drop it off and we donate that to our homeowners,” Davis said. “It’s really cool because, during our dedication, that youth can see their gift being gifted to the homeowners.”
To volunteer, those interested can visit mvhabitat.volunteerhub.com or check out the Maumee Valley Habitat for Humanity Facebook page to register for an informational Zoom session.
“Twice a month, I am now doing a Zoom meeting with anyone who wants to register to find out our volunteer opportunities, how to sign up on our website and what a day in the life of a volunteer looks like,” Davis said.
There is usually a morning and an evening Zoom meeting each month to accommodate everyone’s schedules. Additionally, the community can support the organization by donating to or buying from the Habitat ReStore at 1310 Conant St. in Maumee, a home improvement and gently used home goods store.
“I hope that our city, our community, knows how valuable volunteering is, how valuable it is for someone to have a decent place to live, how valuable it is to give of yourself and how important it is to be involved,” Davis said. “I just hope everybody takes the time to figure out what more there is in your life, what does it look like, and hopefully we can be of service to you.”