What to expect as a Habitat for Humanity Construction Volunteer
Can I Just Show Up?
No. You need to preregister by contacting Volunteer Coordinators Gerry Nabozny or Barbara Henry at firstname.lastname@example.org.
When Should I Arrive and When Should I Expect to Leave?
The work day begins with introductions and a safety review at 8 A.M. Please plan to arrive at the work site fifteen minutes before that so that we can begin on time. The work day ends about 3 P.M. A full day’s commitment is expected.
Where Is the Work Site?
The work site is in Hudson on Columbia Street between Second and Third Streets. The address is 244-246 Columbia. There should be ample street parking within a block or two of the site.
What Should I Do When I Arrive?
Look for the CCHFH board member on duty and sign in. If you have not previously completed a liability waiver for the current build season, you will be asked to do so. Board members will be wearing distinctive name badges to identify themselves.
Do I Have to Sign the Liability Waiver?
Yes. Habitat for Humanity International requires that every volunteer, without exception, must sign a liability waiver agreeing to take personal responsibility for any accidents or injuries on the work site. The form covers the entire build season so that you need sign only one waiver even though you volunteer on multiple days.
Who Is In Charge on the Work Site?
The house leader manages all activities on the work site. Karla Kavanaugh, a professional contractor, is the house leader for the Columbia Street Campaign. She decides what happens and when. She is assisted by crew leaders, who are there to help manage the day’s work and answer any questions you may have.
What Should I Wear?
Expect to get dirty, so dress in suitable work clothing, including work gloves and comfortable closed-toe shoes (you will be on your feet most of the day). Also dress appropriately for the weather. Even once the buildings are sealed, they are rarely heated. So during the winter months, dress in multiple warm layers.
What Work Will I Be Doing?
That depends on the stage of construction and the progress of the work, both of which are unpredictable. What we can promise you is that the work you will be asked to perform will be well within your abilities. It may be something you know how to do already, or it may be a new skill that we teach you.
How Hard Will the Work Be?
In terms of expertise, not hard at all. The work is managed so that it can be performed by volunteers without any previous knowledge of or experience in home construction. In terms of exertion, construction work can be physically demanding, and you should expect to be on your feet for extended periods of time. However, in no case will a volunteer be asked to perform a task (such as shingling a roof or painting on a ladder) that makes him or her uncomfortable.
Do I Need to Bring My Own Tools?
No. All tools and safety equipment (goggles, hard hats, etc.) will be provided. If you prefer to use your own tools, you may bring them. In that case, to avoid confusion, please be sure to label them with your name.
What About Lunch?
Because the lunch break isn’t long enough for you to leave the work site, you are asked to bring a bag lunch. There is typically a midmorning break around 10 A.M. with coffee and donuts, and water will be provided throughout the day.
Do We Work Rain or Shine?
Whether or not rain cancels a build day depends on the work that needs to be performed. We will let you know in advance when rain might affect your build day. In the event of a cancellation due to weather or any other reason, we will notify you as soon as possible by email or telephone. You will be contacted only in the event of a cancellation. If you hear nothing, the work day is on. In general, until the roofs go up, rain is a threat. Once the buildings are sealed, however, the work proceeds rain or shine.
What Should I Do If an Emergency Prevents Me from Showing Up?
Please let us know as soon as you can. Volunteers are scheduled so that the work that needs to get done can get done. If people who are scheduled don’t show up and the scheduled work doesn’t get done, that failure can have implications for the entire build schedule. So please do the best you can to be there; and if you simply can’t, let us know as soon as possible.
Can Teens Volunteer?
Because of insurance requirements and to help maintain a safe work environment, construction volunteers must be at least sixteen years old. Teens (16–17) may volunteer provided that they obtain parental consent in the form of a waiver signed by both parents.
Can I Volunteer with My Friends?
We encourage people to volunteer in groups because of the great camaraderie that groups of friends bring to the work site. You can be a part of as many groups as you like. For example, you can volunteer with coworkers, as part of a church group, and with your bowling league. Just contact Volunteer Coordinator Julia Rubel (see contact information below) to make the arrangements.
Who Should I Call If I Have a Question?
The volunteer coordinators are CCHFH board members Barbara Henry and Gerry Nabozny. You can reach them by email at email@example.com. If your question doesn’t concern volunteering, you can call the CCHFH office at 828-0892.
Thank you very much for volunteering. The Columbia Passive Townhouses can’t be built without you!