Wilbert Luders, who immigrated from Haiti 12 years ago, met his South African wife, Candy Khumako three years ago at the New Hope Ministry in Naples. Seven months ago Wilbert and Candy had twins and ended up in Miami’s Children’s Hospital for surgery on a rare birth defect. Although he is working full time as a stock clerk at Whole Foods and at an Auto Glass Store, their future looked bleak. Luckily they had strong support through their church and someone suggested they apply for a Habitat for Humanity home. They were chosen out of 1,500 applicants. Now they are putting in their required 300 equity hours at the new community, in addition to the two jobs he already holds.
Over the years we have heard from islanders, Wes and Karen Blackwell, about the Habitat for Humanity projectson a regular basis. And there is Marco Islander, Sam Durso, who has been volunteering for the organization since 1993, and is the present CEO.
Agreed I should have gotten involved long ago and today was an eye opener. In the early morning we left with a group of 23 Hideaway volunteers to help out with the first four homes of a new community Habitat for Humanity is building off Immokalee Road in Naples.
Arriving there it was surprising to see there were only a handful of permanent workers and volunteers. Derek Perry, the Director of Volunteer Services, explained that today was just “our day.” Our group was divided for the different jobs including framing, siding and painting. No one of my small group had ever done any siding work. By the end of the morning we all really felt we knew what we were doing. And if we did somethingwrong, Derek was there to make us do it over. However, he was an expert in psychology as well, always complimenting everyone on how fast we learned and how good we were, while teaching us how to correct our mistakes.
And indeed it is amazing how organized Habitat for Humanity is so they can build these sturdy three- bedroom, two-bathroom homes in roughly six weeks, with the help of mostly unskilled volunteers. Derek commented that most volunteers are so committed that the end result often is better than from professional workers.
It was time well spent, giving each of us a satisfying feeling of accomplishment, and I am sure most of us will be back! In the meantime, if you feel you can volunteer for a morning, please contact Habitat for Humanity at 239-775-0036. Or go to the website: www.habitatcollier.org to donate; $10 will cover a box of nails, $75 a window, and $100 a sink.