A Habitat Volunteer Perspective: Ben Ilman

“I started volunteering as a means of engaging in my local communities, sharing my surplus time and labor in a meaningful way, and to further develop myself. I chose to engage with Habitat fairly quickly, because the organization sticks out as having strong values, visible impact, promising opportunities, and a strong local presence in the King County area.

I am a resolute advocate of quality, accessible housing, which is rooted in my belief that a society and its members ought to share its surplus that is generated when humans work together. We’re greater than the sum of our population, and I appreciate that Habitat has made an organized effort to achieve a fairer society, and what I would consider a better world.

Online meetings for volunteer orientation and a webinar with my local representative Pramila Jayapal and HFH CEO Jonathan Reckford further educated me on the foundational value of stable, affordable housing. Learning its relations to health, financial, and educational outcomes was a motivating factor. I know that my time spent working with Habitat is furthering real, necessary change.

Having just finished the rollercoaster of my early twenties, I’m at a point where I can make a determined effort at a sustainable habit of civic engagement. I feel that is something that everyone should engage in, as it is central to our humanity. We are not meant to exist in isolation, and a fulfilled life, the ‘vita activa’ as Hannah Arendt would put it, requires participation in the public sphere.

Today it can be daunting to face the enormity of our global society, and I would semi-relatedly argue that avenues for public participation have not kept up with advances in communication and cultural norms, but it is still critical to ourselves and our communities to work together, outside of shared private interests. That is why I so greatly appreciate efforts made by Habitat and others to make local participation accessible.

As soon as I started looking for opportunities to engage, Habitat was there asking for my help, and within an hour of my house. Habitat lives its values as an international organization that engages and operates locally to best serve people and communities and it fulfills me to serve in its mission. It also directly benefits me, granting me the opportunity to learn about construction, woodworking, and local organization and community development.

I’m in my mid-twenties and my first house, and learning how to build, maintain, and repair structures is an attractive skillset. My first build volunteer day proved immediately the educational value of working with Habitat, and left me looking forward to coming back.

Additional opportunities in advocacy and fundraising, as well as partnerships with other organizations, provided a fantastic network for engagement opportunities.

The leadership and outreach of the organization reinforced my decision to volunteer with Habitat. I look forward to sharing my time and resources with HFH to help further accessible, affordable, and fair housing in my communities.”

Ben Ilman