Habitat for Humanity sees surge of new volunteers

Photo courtesy Pat White
Staff and volunteers of Habitat for Humanity of Archuleta County are racing against the clock to finish multiple homes before more winter weather arrives. The organization gained more than 40 new volunteers over the course of a month.

By Leah Ballard | Habitat for Humanity of Archuleta County

Administrative staff at Habitat for Humanity of Archuleta County have had a chance to catch their breath since the event-filled week in late September. Volunteers on the build site are still racing against winter weather to complete the homes.

The response from our call for volunteers in early October was met with enthusiasm from the community. We have seen more than 40 new volunteers join our ranks in the past month.

Pagosa Springs High School teacher Dyan Rice reached out to us to bring her students out to the build site on a weekly basis. Rice toted 30 students over 16 years of age to the build site every Thursday in October to spend an hour of their day swinging a hammer with the Habitat crew.

Four local businesses have sent employees out to lend a hand, while paying them their normal wage. One of these on-the-clock groups was a roofing dream team, accustomed to climbing around on a frame while wearing a harness. They helped to complete some of the more tedious pieces on the roof of each house. Then, one sunny weekend, a professional roofing company donated their time and labor to finish off both roofs in six hours flat.

Eight members of the Noon Rotary did a bang-up job on painting and siding. We like to have volunteers work in teams of two or three to avoid mistakes on outdoor finishes like siding. This job has an added challenge this year on our steel-frame modulars, as the screws are a bit more difficult to penetrate than finishing nails used on a typical stick-built home. The end result is a quality product, but the hustle isn’t easy.

As the snow is falling outside, our 2022 homes still have work to be done. It does not appear we will hit our goal of having our families in for their Thanksgiving dinner — it was a lofty goal even then, as we set our close date for Dec. 2 from the start. 

Our build season got off to a late start when the modular delivery got pushed from mid-July to late September due to manufacturing delays. But, this is something the entire country is dealing with, and nonprofit, volunteer outfits are no different.

We’re lucky enough in Pagosa springs to have a strong group of “core volunteers” to lead crews at the build site. We have an outpouring of support for workforce housing from our local government through the donation of lots from the county and waivers on many required permit fees. The subcontractors around town continue to show up and give their support with in-kind donation of products and services. The local utility companies discount portions of that expense, as well.

We estimate 2022 Habitat families will purchase these homes for 25 to 30 percent less than market rate. Deed restrictions ensure that these homes will stay affordable for future workforce homeowners should these families decide to move out.

We cannot thank our community enough on behalf of our homeowners, the businesses who employ them, and the children who rely upon them. Habitat Archuleta projects are a combination of volunteer labor, subcontractors, in-kind donation of products and services, and homeowner sweat equity. Habitat families work alongside volunteers to build their home and pay an affordable mortgage.

We’ll be on the job site Tuesday through Saturday, 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Please call (970) 264-6960 or email office@HabitatArchuleta.org before you arrive so we can plan for how many hands will be on deck.