‘Volunteers are vital’ to United Way, Habitat for Humanity

Volunteers make the world go ‘round for two key Dayton organizations: United Way and Habitat for Humanity.

Both organizations would see crucial missions go unaccomplished without volunteers. In fact, without volunteers, they wouldn’t exist.

We spoke with David Mauch, volunteer services director for Habitat for Humanity of Greater Dayton, and Nick Eddy, Volunteer Connection manager at United Way of the Greater Dayton Area.

As his job title indicates, Eddy “connects” or links organizations that need volunteers — schools, groups, agencies, more — with those volunteers. And he connects people or organizations who want to volunteer with those who need them.

For example, Dayton-based CareSource may have 10 or 20 employees looking for a chance to volunteer. It’s Eddy’s job to find the need they can meet.

Simple, right? Not so fast. Eddy — a 20-year-veteran of local legal information powerhouse LexisNexis — loves his job, but finding the right situation for everyone takes a bit of work, sometimes.

But he’s not complaining.

“I very much like being a part of something that’s actually making a difference,” Eddy said.

Last April, Eddy’s predecessor, Chatoya Hayes, had 1,133 participants working on Global Youth Services Day. Eddy has challenged himself with the towering task of beating that number this year, on April 17-19.

“I’m stepping into the pumps of a legend,” Eddy said.

Those looking to volunteer can register on United Way's volunteer connection web site (start with www.dayton-unitedway.org/volunteer.php). You can also send Eddy an email at nicke@dayton-unitedway.org.

Eddy also fields requests from those who are ordered by courts to volunteer for a number of hours.

“Just today, I had two connections by folks looking for hours,” he said in an interview on a Wednesday. “One guy had 50 hours due by Friday. I said, ‘Well, I’ll give you a phone number.’”

Mauch works for the Habitat for Humanity, an organization with a well-known but sometimes misunderstood mission. Habitat does not build homes “for free.” It unites volunteers who raise homes for fellow volunteers. But those homes are sold to volunteers who meet strict income criteria, on a zero-interest mortgage loan, including escrow for taxes and insurance.

Most volunteers aren’t getting a Habitat-built home. But volunteers who receive homes must meet criteria and contribute “sweat equity” hours before work on their future house is started. About 250 hours of work are expected, Mauch said.

And these guys build homes even through the winter. Mauch said recently his organization had three projects happening, one in Fairborn and two closer to downtown Dayton.

“It would be very, very difficult to do what we do without volunteers,” Mauch said. “And we certainly wouldn’t be able to do it to the scale that we are able to. Volunteers are vital.”

You don’t need to be a master electrician or carpenter to help out. If you’ve never picked up a hammer, you can still play a part, Mauch said. Each project has a supervisor who will find something for everyone. Even if it’s cleaning up a yard, painting, putting up siding — there are jobs nearly anyone can do.

Another facet of Habitat’s mission is its thrift store or “ReStore.” The retail store at 115 W. Riverview Ave. sells discounted building material and home products to the public. Habitat needs about eight volunteers daily there, he said.

You can call Mauch at (937) 586-0860, ext. 29, or write him at dmauch@daytonhabitat.org.

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