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Helping make the world a better (and homier) place
When the keys and Bibles are handed over to new homeowners, that’s when Habitat for Humanity volunteer Vickie Bell feels like she’s made a difference in the world.
Habitat for Humanity is a nonprofit, Christian ministry with a mission to help build homes for those in need. For some, the need is very great, and Bell has seen it with her own eyes.
Bell, 71, is also a family selection committee member, which is an important part of the organization. She and others will visit an applicant’s home to see if the need is great enough to require a new home or repair to the current home.
She’s seen children playing on the dirt inside of a mobile home where the subfloor was gone. It’s enough to make her heart break, and it’s motivation to keep her working for the nonprofit.
“There’s a lot of things I can do. But this is something that’s for me,” she said of choosing to spend her time on Habitat for Humanity projects.
“It’s something I wanted to do, and it’s not for everybody,” she said. “There’s so much you can do with Habitat.”
The first time Bell heard of Habitat for Humanity was in the 1970s. But it wasn’t until 2001 that she got involved with volunteering for the organization.
She finally had time then, she said.
“It was something meaningful,” she said of her decision to start volunteer work with the nonprofit.
When she started, she often was out working alongside other volunteers swinging hammers on build sites. After a few years of getting drenched by rain and being cold on the work site, Bell decided she was better suited for inside work.
Now, one day a week she works at the office doing accounts payable work on the computer. Her years working in banking make it an easy position for her to be in, she said.
When she isn’t in the office, she’s reviewing paperwork for applicants wishing for a new house. Often she schedules the home visits and completes the paperwork when she’s at her own home, she said.
Although modest and reserved, Bell’s work means more to the organization than she’ll let on.
Habitat for Humanity of Kitsap County Volunteer Coordinator Adam Simmons said he is grateful for all his volunteers, including Bell.
“Vickie is amazing, and she will not ever say it,” he said. “She’s such a welcoming person. I always look forward to Tuesday — that’s when she comes in.”
Simmons estimates that on and off throughout the year that Habitat for Humanity of Kitsap County has between 900 and 1,000 volunteers. Some come in once a year; others are on more of a regular weekly basis.
Although many will start out doing construction like Bell, there’s also plenty of other opportunities to volunteer. Many residents don’t know that the Habitat for Humanity of Kitsap County store on Wheaton Way actually uses volunteers to run its store, Simmons said.
“We really need store volunteers,” he said. “We’re really shorthanded in the store right now.”
Other options include office work and providing lunch for those on build sites every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.
Simmons said volunteers who are 16 and older are welcome to attend volunteer orientation every Saturday at 10 a.m.
He hopes he’ll find volunteers like Bell, who understand that volunteering time is the easiest form of giving back to a community.
As for why she thinks it’s important to volunteer, Bell has a simple reason: “To make it a better place,” she said. “That’s what I’m trying to do.”
To learn more on how to volunteer for Habitat for Humanity of Kitsap County, visit www.kitsaphabitat.org/volunteer for more information.
Volunteer Coordinator Adam Simmons can be reached at email@example.com or at 360-479-3853.