By Leah Ballard | Habitat for Humanity of Archuleta County
One of the biggest challenges of expanding Habitat for Humanity’s impact in Archuleta County is getting the volunteer numbers to fulfill our mission.
Habitat Archuleta has been growing. In 2023 not only have we tripled our new-build capacity by building three homes in one year, but we also closed four more USDA Direct Loans in the conventional real estate market.
How much does that multiply our impact? How many workforce families gained that sense of security and accomplishment by purchasing a home of their own? How many children know exactly where they’re going to school from now on? Seven workforce families are here to stay because they have the security of homeownership and the opportunity to build equity in their home.
Depending on where a person came from, homeownership is a huge feat. Home ownership is affordable housing.
Habitat Archuleta boasts two employees on the construction site: one seasoned with years of experience in all the variables that builders learn, and one seasonal novice with natural leadership, great communication and organization. Jeff Bouwer and David Hilborn make a great team.
As this organization transitions from a “working Board of Directors” toward a Board of Directors more geared toward governance — a common trend as nonprofit organizations mature, we still boast a handful of core volunteers on-site. Larry Parks, Gary Williams, Bob Carlos, Mack Orsborn and Duane Peter spend summers with us every year.
And, just like last year, we find ourselves in need of one last push as summer fades to fall. This is our annual call for new volunteers to come out and lend a hand.
One of the things we love about this community is the population of people who’ve chosen this place for retirement or their escape from the urban grind. We know the thought of construction work can be intimidating, but wait until you meet our crew. Many of these folks are well in to their mature years, but show no signs of slowing.
One of Bouwer’s hallmarks is his ability to work with and train anyone who’s never swung a hammer before. The ideal volunteer comes with a small group, say about three people, who can join us on the job site two or three days in a row — or one day a week for two or three weeks, year after year.
We will warn you, its easy to get wrapped up and keep coming back for more. It can be difficult to pin down exactly what tasks are needed on a given day, but there is always a light-duty option for beginners. We always recommend work boots, gloves and a bandana to keep the sun off your neck when working outside. A change of shoes and an ice-cold water bottle might also be a good idea, but the cooler is always stocked.
If jobsite work still sounds like too much to take on, lunch for about 12 volunteers is always a boost for morale. Saturdays tend to be a bit busier, as that is the day most of our homeowners are out there earning their sweat equity.
And, finally, if you’re not really the cooking or construction type, join us at our largest annual fundraiser from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Sept. 9 at the Ross Aragon Community Center. One hundred percent of the funds raised go to support our new construction here in Archuleta County.
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 a mortgage they can afford.
Starting June 20, we’ll be on the jobsite Tuesday through Saturday, 8 a.m. to 2:30 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.