Jim Turner, an aviation engineer at Pond, can do just about any type of home repair or installation—put a roof on a house, fix plumbing issues, install an HVAC unit, and even do electrical work. Unfortunately he lives in an apartment where management won’t let him fix anything. “I ask them, ‘Please can I just go ahead and fix it?’ And they say, ‘No we have to call our contractor’,” he said. “It drives me crazy.”
Jim honed his home building skills through Atlanta Habitat for Humanity, a charity that partners with families, sponsors, and volunteers to build affordable homes for qualified low-income families. He became familiar with the organization by volunteering as a laborer through Boy Scouts and church as a kid (volunteers now need to be 16+), but has become even more involved over the last two years.
“It’s a great way to give back to the community. It’s a lot of fun and you learn a lot of new skills.”
Jim serves as a Skilled Supervisor at Habitat job sites, overseeing the shingling and roof decking tasks involved with building a new house. Habitat chose Jim for his building skills and surprising lack of fear of standing on a barely built roof. He attended additional Habitat-required training and is now able to supervise groups of laborer volunteers as they hammer down shingles and decking.
As a supervisor, Jim is required to volunteer at least once a month, but prefers to head out to the job site at least once a weekend, mostly because of the people. “You get to meet people you don’t normally get exposed to and make new connections,” Jim said. He has met volunteers who are pilots, NFL players, bankers, and church groups from around the city, but says, “flight attendants are some of the most rambunctious and interesting people that I’ve worked with.”
These groups of volunteers from all walks of life are led by teams of skilled supervisors, and a Habitat-employed house manager to build houses for deserving families in the Atlanta/Fulton County area in seven days. Since the Atlanta Habitat for Humanity organization was founded in 1983, the organization has built nearly 1,300 homes. Jim has personally had a hand in building 25-30 houses.
Everyone is qualified to volunteer and help homeownership become reality for a deserving family. “You don’t need any experience. Skilled supervisors will be there to teach you everything you need to know,” Jim said, “We don’t make you do anything you don’t want to do, but we will help you stretch your limits. Everyone has a good time.”
To find out more about volunteering at Atlanta Habitat for Humanity, visit www.atlantahabitat.org/volunteer.