Volunteers help at a Habitat for Humanity home

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Habitat Volunteer Passionate About Being That Extra Set of Hands on a Construction Build

Jim Reyher considers himself a blue collar guy, but professionally he worked a white collar job as a chemical engineer in various managerial positions. He volunteered, but often from the comfort of an office chair, serving on boards.

“I wasn’t doing anything physical,” he said. “I wanted to be outside and do actual labor.”

That’s among the many reasons Jim enjoys volunteer days at construction builds on behalf of Habitat for Humanity Peninsula and Greater Williamsburg. The nonprofit builds homes in Hampton, James City County, Newport News, Williamsburg and occasionally York, New Kent and Charles City that are sold to qualified families who pay back no-interest mortgages so that more Habitat houses can be built. Families volunteer on constructing the homes that they will later own. Community members are always needed.

Jim enjoys providing that extra set of hands.

“Anybody at any skill level can help but depending on your skill level, there are certain tasks you might be better suited for,” he said, though his experience makes him ideal for tasks that require more advanced skills.

Over the years, he has helped in many areas of home construction such as installation of floor joists, subfloor, walls, roof trusses/plywood, siding, interior wood trim, and porches/decks. He recently spent a volunteer day filing nail holes and caulking interior trim wood in preparation for painting.

The Habitat for Humanity professional construction crew can provide any needed guidance.

Jim is a “Green Hat,” a distinction that goes to skilled men and women with general construction and carpentry skills who assist site supervisors’ effort to ensure construction safety, productivity and quality control. Green Hats can also guide and lead other volunteers. Jim, who started volunteering in 2011, is also a recipient of the Golden Hammer Award given by the crew for outstanding performance and contribution.

One of the hidden benefits of volunteering Jim discovered — he is comfortable tackling his own home projects rather than having to hire someone to do them. He recently worked on the homes of both of his children to prepare them for sale.

“I have no fear of trying any home projects,” Jim said. “I started out pretty raw. But the crew shows you what to do and is always willing to help you with any task.”

Largely Jim’s reward is contributing to his own community. When he’s onsite, he finds camaraderie being one of the guys.

“I’ve been very fortunate and very blessed,” he said. “I think Habitat is a wonderful organization because they’re helping someone; they’re not giving anything away. You frequently meet and interface with the homeowners as they are required to volunteer a required number of hours. Many of these homeowners have had to face some unique challenges and obstacles during their lifetime. I like being able to make a small difference in their lives.”Interested in volunteering for a Habitat for Humanity Peninsula and Greater Williamsburg construction build? Visit habitatpgw.org/construction-helpers/.

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We help as many families as we can, but the lack of decent and affordable housing remains a critical problem in our area. By donating, you will provide upfront funding for building materials and services that makes interest-free loans to Habitat partner families possible. Habitat partner families help to build their own homes - alongside volunteers - and pay an affordable mortgage. Your monetary donations enable us to continue building strength, stability and independence for future local families.