Today’s guest post comes from Habitat for Humanity of Minnesota. Thanks for telling us about your volunteer programs, and for recognizing the wonderful volunteers that work to make your programs such a success!
With the tantalizing thoughts of spring right around the corner, many people are itching to get outdoors and enjoy the milder weather. For Habitat for Humanity volunteers, this means dusting off their hammers, putting on their painting clothes, and volunteering at build sites and in offices. Habitat for Humanity, a nonprofit Christian housing organization, builds and repairs simple, decent, and affordable homes with those who lack adequate shelter. The 32 Habitat affiliates in Minnesota work closely with volunteers of all ages to support and serve low-income families throughout their communities. Through the dedication and persistent work of volunteers, this organization has served over 2,000 families in Minnesota who now live in healthier and safer homes. (To read more about Habitat for Humanity and its programs, read our fact sheet.)
The scope of a volunteer’s work is varied, but the results are the same. Regardless of a volunteer painting, hanging dry wall, or helping with an affiliate’s fundraising campaign, each volunteer is contributing to the elimination of poverty housing. Each year, over 30,000 volunteers contribute to Habitat for Humanity’s mission statewide, with an average 2,015 volunteer hours being spent on building a Habitat home. Habitat volunteers make their mark on more than just the four walls of a new home; the long-term impact of having a stable place to live is astonishing! After Habitat partner families move into their home, they experience improved health, greater educational attainment and job prospects, decreased dependency on welfare programs, and an increased personal sense of connectedness to their family and community. (To read more about how Habitat homeownership is changing lives, read our full Homeowner Impact Study report.)
In addition to the hardworking volunteers who log long hours on build sites constructing Habitat homes, there are also volunteers who work behind the scenes to build organizational capacity and resources at Habitat for Humanity affiliates. This extraordinary group of people, known as Volunteers in Service to America (VISTA), commit to a year of service and provide help in several areas to ensure the longevity of Habitat programs. VISTAs increase the affiliate capacity to build community involvement by recruiting and retaining more volunteers, assisting with family selection and support programs, spreading awareness through advanced communications efforts, and developing new programs. VISTAs leverage and grow resources so Habitat for Humanity affiliates can serve more families and strengthen more communities.
So as the temperature steadily rises and the days become longer, Habitat for Humanity affiliates across Minnesota are gearing up for busy construction days. With the continuous help from volunteers, both onsite and behind the scenes, poverty housing is being eliminated. For more information on Habitat for Humanity affiliates across Minnesota and to find your local affiliate to volunteer, visit www.hfhmn.org.
AmeriCorps*VISTA volunteers create materials and programs that Habitat affiliates can repurpose and reuse to build even more capacity. Amanda Mangan, a 2011-2012 VISTA, spent her year focusing on volunteer coordination. Habitat for Humanity is a heavily volunteer-centered organization; recruitment and retention of volunteers is essential to our success. Amanda implemented new ways of interacting with potential and current volunteers by creating a weekly e-newsletter blast with photos, construction updates, and upcoming volunteer opportunities. This tool allowed volunteers to stay involved with a project and see progress being made. The results were immediate. The Habitat affiliate saw an increase in volunteer retention, because their volunteers felt valued, proud, and more connected to their work. Amanda also created a volunteer database to better track the number of volunteers and hours spent on the build sites. The database allowed her to connect regularly with even more people, as she collected and updated the database with volunteers’ emails.
Learn more about being a Habitat for Humanity AmeriCorps*VISTA.