Heroes Among Us

Our volunteers are ordinary people who choose to do extraordinary things.  Click on the links below and read about few of our exceptional volunteers.

 

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2017 Volunteer of the Year - Jim Lawler

Jim Lawler:

2017 Volunteer of the Year

Jim's Story

My grandfather was a great carpenter and woodworker who built custom doors and windows. As a small child, I remember visiting him in the carpenter shop with a wood burning stove going and saw dust on the floor so thick that it was like walking in snow. I guess this woodworking attachment was instilled in me at an early age.

 

My first real job in high school was working in a family owned lumber yard. I enjoyed working there and used it as a stepping stone to get a job with a small home builder a couple years later. Back then we did everything from the foundation footings to roofing. Home construction has changed quite a bit since then, the tools and the material technology, not to mention all the new building codes.


My career path took me in a different direction after those years in construction but I never lost my affection for carpentry. Over the years I helped my family and friends reroof their houses, put on siding, install drywall, hang doors, and everything in-between. I took a class in cabinet building and over the years built a number woodworking projects in my garage and basement.


When my job took me to Nashville, Tennessee, I volunteered for a couple of Habitat for Humanity builds that my company sponsored. Working with the Crew Leaders, other volunteers, and homeowners got me attracted to doing more.


When retirement drew closer and closer, Habitat was in the back of my mind as a way to give back. My family and I have been fortunate in life and the Habitat concept of building homes for deserving families only made perfect sense. Personally helping to build a house makes you feel like you have accomplished something real and tangible. Unlike giving to some mammoth organization where you do not know where or how your assistance is being used, with Habitat you know exactly where and how your support affects another family on a local level. Working with volunteer groups is extremely rewarding. Being asked to become a Crew Leader, along with becoming a member of Construction and Safety Committees, fills me with a tremendous amount of self-worth and a desire to do more.


I particularly enjoy teaching or instructing volunteers with little or no construction experience. It is fun to see a volunteer's face after they learn something new and have that sense of accomplishment.


I cannot say enough about the other Habitat volunteers and staff that I have the honor to work with daily. This dedicated group of men and women really care about building a well-constructed house. Their attention to detail gives the impression as if they are building the house for themselves or a family member.


In my two short years of volunteering with Habitat of Waukesha I have already worked on nine houses! That is nine families who will probably become homeowners for the first time in their lives and families who will be able to call their new, well-built house "home."


This gives me a warm feeling that is infectious and, I hope, contagious. 

Volunteer - Earl Baumann - Construction / Crew Leader

Earl Baumann

Construction/Crew Leader

Earl Baumann began volunteering with Habitat in 2006. He worked with Megal Development for over 40 years as a real estate broker and manager of their construction department, while working part-time in a residential design business. These three components of real estate, construction, and design made Earl a perfect fit for Habitat, and he was looking to help us out. "Waukesha Habitat is a growing organization, and I felt my knowledge could be of help," he said. Earl, of course, ended up being a natural on the build site, and quickly ascended into a leadership role, guiding and training fellow regulars, business groups and community volunteers. He went above and beyond his role as volunteer, acting as volunteer construction manager until we hired one as full-time staff.

 

Earl's favorite parts of volunteering? The families, and the other volunteers. "Meeting the families that occupy these homes is most rewarding to me," said Earl. "I enjoy seeing the children who benefit from having a home to return to and feel safe. And the volunteers who build the homes- their hearts and attitudes are in the right place."

 

Earl volunteers three days a week almost every week, and his thousands of volunteer hours over the year has helped Habitat Waukesha County move from a house-a-year organization to one that will build six homes this year and will soon assist dozens of other families with home repair.

 

Want to be like Earl and become a volunteer?  Register to become a volunteer today!

Volunteer - Donald Pike - Construction / Crew Leader

Don accepts the United Way of Waukesha County’s Volunteer of the Year Award. Pike received a $500 check which he chose to donate to Habitat for HumanityDonald Pike

Construction/Crew Leader

Most Habitat for Humanity affiliates have a paid, full-time construction manager. For many years, Habitat for Humanity of Waukesha County did not. Instead, we relied on a group of 10-15 volunteer leaders (the "crew leaders," or as we affectionately call them, "the saints") to run our build site. Not only is Don Pike a member of the saints, but is a leader among those leaders.

 

Don began his volunteer work with Habitat in 2001. "My family and I have been blessed through the years," Don said. "So just before I retired I was looking for some way I could give back to others." Don had worked on several home construction projects while doing charity work with his church. He heard that Habitat was in need of volunteers, and decided it was the right fit for him. Don has since put in several thousand hours of volunteer work building 14 homes with Habitat, including almost 800 hours of service last year. This, on top of babysitting his young grandchildren several times a week.

 

Habitat builds three days a week for eight hours a day, and it is a very rare sight to not see Don on site for every minute of it. He arrives early to help plan the day out, and spends his off-time helping to make the actual plans for how the home will be built. When on site, he is meticulous in making sure the house is built correctly. Put simply, Habitat couldn't build as much as we do without him. Not only does he use his construction knowledge to physically build the house, but he uses his charm and kind attitude to help new volunteers integrate onto the build site and teach them how to build. From college students to a group of bank employees to individuals who have retired and want something to do, Don guides the hundreds of community volunteers who work on our site each year. This adds up to thousands of hours of additional volunteer work that is made possible by Don's contributions, and he is often listed as one of the best parts of volunteers' build experiences, keeping them coming back for more.

 

One of the most satisfying parts of the job for Don is being able to work side by side with Habitat homeowners and volunteers, getting to know them personally. "My favorite part of volunteer work is meeting so many great people, those we help and those who are volunteering," Don said. "At Habitat it is being able to do something I enjoy while helping a family in need get a home, plus getting to know them and working with such a great bunch of volunteers. What more could I ask for?"

 

Don has had a great impact on the Waukesha community and is the epitome of the mission guiding Habitat affiliates around the world: building homes, building hope, building community.

 

Want to be like Don and become a volunteer?  Register to become a volunteer today!