Volunteers: They’re Just like Us


Last month, we took a look back at some wonderful accomplishments of our beloved volunteers. But humility is a virtue. So this month we’re highlighting the Habitat Chicago Top 10 Volunteer Build Site Blunders of 2016. Nota bene: we still really, REALLY appreciate you.


10. Kicking off the list is an ever-so-common (perhaps a bit too common?) mistake: confusing inches with centimeters and centimeters with inches. We think it’s safe to say our 4th grade math teachers are all shaking their heads in disappointed unison wherever they may be.   


9. Arriving to the construction site and exclaiming in utter amazement, “Wow, this is like an actual job site!” I mean, we’re gooooood, but we’re not that good - and we do, in fact, require tools, materials, and labor to build houses. 


8. Bringing a dog to the build site. While we are (abnormally) huge fans of pups around these parts of town, we just aren’t sure that your Maltese is ready to tackle the challenge of framing (nonetheless sign the required liability waiver to even step foot paw on site!)  


7. When sent to retrieve a standard-sized hammer for a standard-sized nail for framing, a volunteer returned from the tool trailer with an 8lb sledgehammer in tow. Don’t get us wrong, we welcome gusto, but perhaps not quite this much... 


6. The ever-infamous, ever-hilarious trying to drive a nail in with the driver set in reverse. 


5. Lockstep with the classically endearing inches and centimeters mix-up, a volunteer once offered the specific, scientific measurement of “17 and 3 dashes” when using a tape measurer. (Don’t worry, Habitat Chicago homeowners, our Crew Leaders sought clarification on this one.) 


4. Before volunteers come out to volunteer, we specify that work boots or sneakers are required to get out on the job site. And do you know what the feet of our volunteers grace us with? Uggs. Lots of Uggs. (We’re thinking this one probably goes in tow with #9 above.) 


3. A typical tutorial given on site is to move your paintbrush in a “W-like motion” while painting an interior wall. Well, once upon a time, a Crew Leader stepped away to retrieve some tools and returned to a single, giant “W” on a wall and a volunteer resting proudly.  


2. “This circular saw isn’t working!” “This screw gun just will not go!” “This work light will not turn on!” Well, volunteer friends of ours, that is simply because they are not plugged in. 


1. And topping the charts is the monthly (often bi-monthly, sometimes weekly) question, “Is that a swimming pool?” in reference to recently poured foundations. We just… We don’t…  


“Measure twice, cut once.” That’s the old adage our Crew Leaders put forth on site each day. And we have a feeling they’ll keep on doing so. But hey, our volunteers must be doing something right as we wrap up construction on homes 9 and 10 in West Pullman this month!


*Full disclosure: this article was written by a Habitat Chicago staff member who works solely in the office and far too recently required a lesson on how to use a tape measurer… 


**And a special note that the Habitat Chicago team does not sit around hashing out volunteer misses at the end of each build day. These were gathered solely for the sake of this article’s hilarity. 


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