Our Head of Volunteering, Manuela Campbell, tells us her Habitat story of finding meaning in life through volunteering.
From my first interaction with Habitat for Humanity I have found that it is all about what we can do. As individuals, as team members, as leaders and HomePartners—we can harness the Power of One in order to accomplish great things and constantly surprise ourselves.
My Habitat story began when I had a chance meeting with two Habitat for Humanity volunteer team leaders on Global Village trips. This came at a time when I was working at a job that I enjoyed and was good at, but I still felt like I was falling short of my expectations of myself.
As I learned more about their volunteer work abroad I realised this was exactly the experience I desired. In what I have now come to recognise as the true Habitat for Humanity spirit, they eagerly told me that I could do what they do. I realised they were right—of course I could.
I found an opportunity for a Global Village Build in my dream destination, Romania, and reached out to the Team Leader, Katie. With this first conversation I voiced my self-doubts:
- “My experience with building begins and ends with my childhood tree house”
- “I don’t think anyone will want to donate to my trip”
- “What if the other team members don’t like me?” (Okay that last one I didn’t actually vocalise)
Katie quickly reassured me that all that mattered was my willingness to learn, be open to the experience, and allow myself to be challenged. She encouraged me to give my friends and family the opportunity to support me through fundraising – “asking can’t hurt and you’ll be surprised by how excited people are to donate”. And she was right.
At every step, from fundraising to nailing together roof trusses on the build site, everyone was ready to support and encourage me—they never had any doubts about what I was capable of. This was one of the few times in my life where everything was about what I can do and not about discouraging or doubting my abilities.
Before my first Build ended I was ready for more. Katie’s response to my enthusiasm was: “Lead your own Builds.” This sentiment was echoed by my next Build’s Team Leader and some of my fellow volunteers. And so I took the next step in my Habitat journey and became a Team Leader.
Team Leading is hard work, but it is incredibly rewarding to see the young university student who has never travelled abroad, conquer her fears, or the retiree who spends every summer with Global Village impart their wisdom or the vacationing accountant develop the perfect brick laying assembly line.
I love recruiting volunteers and sharing my enthusiasm for Habitat’s mission with them. Being a part of their Habitat story is a privilege and I am proud that I have been a voice reminding them of what they can do.
Through the power of volunteering, we can partner, inspire, and realise the Power of Home. You can be a vital part of addressing the global housing crisis. You can.