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  • Writer's pictureRachel Nelson

Volunteering as a Future Homeowner

My husband and I purchased our first (and current) home in 2008. It was a foreclosure and certainly looked daunting to any knowledgeable person we had come to look at it. That was our bliss. We weren’t knowledgeable, we were enthusiastic optimists who loved old homes. Did I mention this home was old? Our home is 1920s old. Upon receiving the keys to our new space, we walked into the foyer—with its cracks in the plaster, broken toilet in the nearby half bath and deafeningly empty silence, it hit us. We had absolutely no idea what we were doing.

Fast forward more than a decade later and we can maneuver our way around a power tool with the best of them. Family, friends, neighbors and the occasional contractor willing to show us a thing or two all fed into our education.

Not everyone chooses the trial by fire approach when it comes to learning how to DIY home repair. Instead, they can utilize lessons learned with organizations like NeighborLink Indianapolis, Habitat for Humanity, Rebuilding Together, SAWs and other organizations that focus on volunteer labor to help repair homes. For instance, my first experience working with drywall was when I was in high school and volunteered with Habitat for Humanity. Did that mean I was a pro? No, of course not. What it did mean, was I had a level of familiarity that allowed me to have a starting point without fear.

This all is looking at volunteerism from the “what’s in it for me” approach which isn’t always voiced. Oftentimes, volunteering is only portrayed as a selfless act. In the world of volunteerism and home repair though, it doesn’t always have to be 100% selfless. If you're wanting to learn more about how to spot trouble in a house you’re looking to buy, or wanting to know how to fix sagging gutters, or just how to properly hold and swing a hammer without banging a bunch of dents in the wall, that’s a-okay too. We’re happy to have you and your ulterior motives.

Much like first time optimistic homeowners who don’t know their hacksaw from their jigsaw, we take that willingness to learn and grow it into a handy person. In that process, we’ve helped low-income homeowners—seniors and individuals with disabilities, receive home repairs that allow them to age in place safely.

If this all strikes a chord with you, whether you’re looking to purchase a home or do a few DIY projects around your current place, consider signing up to volunteer with us this year! Learn handyman skills, proper safety precautions, tool lingo and more. You can choose as little or as much of a commitment as you like. Aim to volunteer once a month, sign up for an available project for a date you have available - no regularity needed. The best training comes with practice though, so don’t be shy with those sign ups!

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