FAQs & POLICIES
General Volunteer FAQs
Q: How can I volunteer with Habitat Chicago?
A: There are a number of ways you can get involved with Habitat Chicago. Volunteers can work on our build site, in our ReStore (our discounted home improvement store that raises funds for Habitat Chicago), in our office or on special projects and committees. For a comprehensive list of volunteer opportunities, please visit our Volunteer page.
Q: Who can volunteer?
A: We welcome everyone who believes in our vision! You can come as an individual who wants to lend a hand and meet new people or with a group who wants to spend some time together. We have worked alongside corporations, schools, faith groups, families, groups of friends and everyone in between. Whether you arrive as an individual or a team, you will leave as part of the Habitat Chicago community.
Q: Can I fulfill community service with Habitat Chicago?
A: We’d be happy to work with you to help you complete community service hours. Upon registering for your first volunteer day, you will be prompted to answer several questions pertaining to your community service. We will then review your answers and you will be notified via e-mail whether or not you have been approved to complete your service hours with us.
Q: Does Habitat Chicago provide transportation to volunteer events?
A: No, but we'll meet you there. Carpooling with other volunteers is always encouraged, as well as public transportation.
Q: Can I bring friends with me to volunteer, even though there wasn’t space for them to register online?
A: No. In order to ensure safety and productivity, only volunteers who register in advance can attend volunteer days. Our construction team and ReStore staff reserve the right to turn away volunteers who are not registered prior to the volunteer day.
Build Site Volunteer FAQs
Q: Do I need prior building experience or tools?
A: No, we encourage everyone from professionals to novices to come build with us. There are a variety of jobs perfect for every level of skill. Our staff provides on-site training and all-day guidance, as well as all of the tools and materials needed to complete the tasks at hand.
Q: Do I need to attend a new volunteer orientation before I volunteer on the build site?
A: No, Habitat construction staff will give a site and safety orientation the morning of your build day. However, we do recommend attending a new volunteer orientation within three months of your first build day to learn more about the many ways you can get involved. You can view and register for upcoming volunteer orientations here.
Q: Where is the current build site?
A: You’ll receive the exact address when you register to volunteer. For a general location of our current build sites, you can visit our Directions and Hours page.
Q: What will I be doing on the build site?
A: Build site activities include everything it takes to build a home from start to finish. Some typical volunteer activities include: framing, siding, painting, roofing, laying flooring, hanging doors or windows, trim work, finishing, landscaping and cleaning. Each task is critical to a finished home and a healthier, more stable family. The specific activity you will be working on is difficult to predict more than a few days in advance. Your flexibility and enthusiasm for whatever activity you’ll be working on day-of are most appreciated.
Q: How old do I have to be to volunteer on the build site?
A: You must be at least 16 years of age to volunteer on our build site. Anyone under 18 must be accompanied by a chaperone with a ratio of at least 1 chaperone for every 4 youths. All chaperones must be at least 21 years of age.
Q: When can I volunteer?
A: We have opportunities available every Thursday, Friday, and Saturday from 8:00am-3:00pm all year-round (excluding holidays). To maintain our construction schedule and get our families moved in as quickly as possible, it is expected that all volunteers participate for the full day.
Q: How do I register to volunteer on the build site?
A: If you are an individual or have a small group (less than 5 volunteers), you can register using our public volunteer calendar. If you are interested in bringing a larger group out, please visit our Corporate Groups or Community Groups pages and fill out the interest form. A member of our team then will be in touch within 3-5 business days.
Q: Is there a minimum time requirement?
A: A full day of building from 8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. is required and you must register online in advance. There is no "frequency" commitment, however. You can come out as little or as often as you'd like, as long as there is availability.
Q: What if the day I want to build is full?
A: All build days are first come, first served. If your first pick is already full, please choose another day that works for you and your schedule. Additionally, sometimes things happen and people have to cancel their volunteer shifts, so check back often!
Q: What if I registered but can no longer make it to my volunteer day on the build site?
A: Having accurate volunteer numbers is critical for the progress of our homes and for the planning of our construction leadership. You can cancel your shift directly from the volunteer portal up to 12 hours in advance by logging in, clicking on My Current Shifts, then clicking on the Volunteer Shift Name (VS-######) that you would like to cancel. Once you click the Cancel Shift button on the top of that page, you will be removed from the build day. Alternatively, you can let us know directly by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling 312-563-0296. If you do not show up for your volunteer day or do not notify us of your cancellation, you may forfeit your right to volunteer with us in the future.
Q: Do I need to fundraise or donate to volunteer on the build site?
A: In order to ensure there is enough space for a group, we ask all volunteer groups to commit to fundraising or donating to cover the cost of tools and materials for your build day. If you have a small group and aren’t able to fundraise, you can monitor the public volunteer calendar and sign up individually, but we won’t be able to guarantee there will be space available on the date you are most interested in. Individual volunteers are not required to fundraise or donate, but we encourage and appreciate a $25 donation.
ReStore Volunteer FAQs
Q: What will I be doing at the ReStore?
A: Tasks vary day to day, but some common activities include assisting customers, processing and sorting donations, repairing and refurbishing donations, placing merchandise out on the floor, and hitting the road with ReStore staff to pick up donated goods.
Q: How old do I need to be to volunteer at the ReStore?
You must be at least 14 years of age to volunteer at the ReStore. Anyone under 16 must be accompanied by a chaperone with a ratio of at least 1 chaperone for every 4 youths. All chaperones must be at least 18 years of age.
Q: Do I need to attend a new volunteer orientation before I volunteer at the ReStore?
A: To volunteer as an individual, you must attend a ReStore 101. You can view and register for upcoming 101s here. ReStore volunteer groups will be given an orientation the morning of their volunteer day and do NOT need to attend a separate ReStore 101.
Q: How do I register to volunteer at the ReStore?
A: If you are an individual or have a small group (less than 5 volunteers), you can register using our public volunteer calendar but must attend a ReStore 101 first. If you are interested in bringing a larger group out, please visit our Corporate Groups or Community Groups page and fill out an interest form. A member of our team will then be in touch within 3-5 business days.
Q: What if I registered but can no longer make it to my volunteer day at the ReStore?
A: You can cancel your shift directly from the volunteer portal up to 12 hours in advance by logging in, clicking on My Current Shifts, then clicking on the Volunteer Shift Name (VS-######) that you would like to cancel. Once you click the Cancel Shift button on the top of that page, you will be removed from the build day. Alternatively, you can let us know directly by emailing email@example.com or calling 312-563-0296. If you do not show up for your volunteer day or do not notify us of your cancellation, you may forfeit your right to volunteer with us in the future.
Q: Do I need to fundraise or donate to volunteer at the ReStore?
A: Nope, but if you can, we sure do appreciate it. We suggest a $25 donation.
Build Site Policies
Experience and Conduct
No construction experience is required; just a good attitude and the discipline to follow instructions
Volunteers must be able to sustain a seven-hour day of physical labor with reasonable breaks
Volunteers are expected to be engaged in the tasks at hand: use phones only when absolutely necessary or while on break and minimize absences from crews for business or personal reasons
All volunteers must be present for the on-site safety orientation in the morning. Any volunteer who misses this orientation may forfeit their right to volunteer that day
Prior to coming to the build site, each volunteer must take a brief online safety course. This course will be provided via email to each registered volunteer
Proper build site attire is required and includes hard-soled shoes (boots preferred; sturdy sneakers acceptable), long pants, appropriate layers for the weather, and clothes you don't mind getting dirty; avoid loose-fitting clothing and jewelry
Drugs and Alcohol
The use of drugs or alcohol is not tolerated on or near Habitat Chicago worksites
Anyone under the influence of drugs or alcohol will be immediately escorted from the premises
Smoking is not permitted on Habitat Chicago worksites; one may smoke outside of the worksite and must clean up after himself
First Aid and Medical
If there are known medical considerations in your group (e.g. pregnancy), please inform the Habitat Chicago staff coordinator before your build date. We will consult with our construction team to plan for appropriate work if possible
Medical emergencies or injuries sustained on-site must immediately be reported to a Habitat Chicago Crew Leader for next steps
First aid supplies and hospital directions will be available on-site
Weather and Emergencies
We build year-round and in all kinds of weather; if rain is forecasted, don’t assume your team build can’t happen! We will only cancel the build day for three reasons (all are dependent on the stage of the homes): extreme cold; extreme moisture; or sustained threat of lightning
If there is a weather cancellation you will be notified via phone and/or email by 7:00 am the day of the build at the latest
In the event of an on-site emergency, the Habitat Chicago construction team will give clear instructions; all volunteers must desist their activity and respond immediately
Volunteers Under 18
All participants must be at least 16 years of age; volunteers under 18 must be accompanied by a chaperone in a ratio of no more than four youth to one adult; youth must bring a minor’s waiver signed by a guardian in order to participate
Chaperones must be at least 21 years of age and present to their assigned youth the entirety of the day