What do I need to know for my first volunteer day?
Before arriving, be sure you know who to ask for, and where and when you'll be needed. If you are going to a construction site, know your Site Leader's name. Sorry, kids under the age of 14 are not allowed on a HFH construction site.
What should construction volunteers bring?
• Water & a lunch
• Safety goggles or glasses.
• Wear sturdy shoes - don't wear sandals.
• Habitat will furnish most of the tools needed, but it is useful if volunteers bring their own personal tools such as hammer, measuring tape, square, pencil and utility knife.
• If you have specialized tools for the type of job you will be doing, by all means, bring them.
• Remember to mark your personal tools with your name.
What happens at the work site?
Upon arrival at the construction site, introduce yourself to the Construction Supervisor or the Site Leader. Specify any pertinent skills you have. Sign the waiver form at the site. At the beginning of the workday, the Site Leader gathers everyone for introductions and safety instructions, then outlines the work to be done that day. The volunteers may then be divided into smaller groups for work on specific tasks.
What is a Site Leader?
Every Habitat house has a Site Leader who is skilled or semi-skilled in construction. This person should also be an effective leader and be willing to teach and guide others. If no one with sufficient experience is available within your organization, Habitat will help train a member of your group as the site leader. Other members may be skilled builders or complete novices, so long as they are willing to receive instructions and follow the directions of the leader.
What about the Homeowner?
You may meet or work with the homeowner family, who are closely involved in the construction of their future home. The relationship between volunteers, Habitat workers and the partner family is just as important as the house they are building together.
Are there age limitations?
Yes. Our guidelines are from OSHA regulations and from Habitat's insurance company:
• No one under 14 is permitted on a Habitat building site at all.
• Those aged 14-15 are welcome to help during painting or landscaping phases of a project. However, they are not allowed on a building site while construction is being done.
• Those aged 16-17 can do general construction, but cannot use power equipment; cannot work on a ladder, roof or scaffolding; cannot participate in any hazardous activity.
• Volunteers under the age of 18 and their parent/guardian are required to complete and sign a Release and Waiver of Liability for Minors form.
• Groups with members under 16 can assign them to non-construction Habitat projects, such as meal preparation, lot maintenance, fundraising, etc. Call the Habitat office (256-340-9609) for more ideas.
Who is responsible if injuries or accidents occur while volunteering?
Each Habitat volunteer must sign a Release and Waiver of Liability form, agreeing to take personal responsibility for any accidents or injuries they may suffer. Your (or your group's) health insurance plan should cover you while engaged in volunteer work; however, you should verify that you have this type of coverage prior to signing the form.
What about other problems that may crop up -- even after the workday?
We want to know. Contact any or all of us -- your Site Leader or Habitat's Executive Director -- about personal or operational problems on our projects.
What other things can volunteers do besides construction?
Volunteer time and skills are often in demand for:
• transportation of materials and tools to or from a work site
• clean-up coordination at the end of a workday
• maintenance on lots slated for building.
• phoning volunteers to schedule them for or remind them of their workday (this is a very helpful job)
• help with a special event (for example, preparation for a home dedication ceremony)
• leading a Financial Skills Class or other homeowner training class for partner families
• office support
• sponsor a house (provide major funding and volunteers for construction of a specific home)
• provide all the food and snacks for the construction people during their workday
• help with a special event (for example, the planning and preparation for a home dedication ceremony)
• maintain lots slated for building
• co-sponsor a house (join with other groups to fund and construct a home)
Call the Habitat office at 256-340-9609 to learn more about these opportunities. Join in!