At noon Wednesday, there were about 20 of the Care-A-Vanners building shelves and putting a fresh layer of paint on the ReStore’s warehouse area.
“They’re here from pretty much all over the U.S.,” Habitat Construction Manager Robert Brunke said Wednesday. “We were working on the house this morning, but then the rain came and we moved inside to help get the store to where they wanted it to be when they got it open. We’re giving it a fresh look in the behind-the-scenes area.”
The majority of the those who travel to work with Habitat are retired, and devote their time and effort to helping others, he said.
“These are your hard-core RV’ers and Habitaters,” Brunke explained. “They’ll come spend a couple of weeks here, and I think they’re also going to help us out with our repair ministry in Moore County.”
Of the “hard-core RV’ers” “Gypsy” Nancy Dile may be the most well-traveled. She made recent trips to El Salvador and Alaska to participate in Habitat’s Global Village program.
She appreciates the way the whole Habitat program works.
“The way it’s laid out. The fact they don’t give things away ... The people in this area are wonderful and we love coming back here. It’s like coming home.”
Things are done differently in the N.C. Sandhills than in other parts of the world, she said, though the mission remains the same.
“The home we built in El Salvador was built with a port-a-potty as the bathroom facilities because there was no indoor-plumbing,” Dile said. “There was a big sink outside that was used for washing dishes, washing clothes and washing people. Of course, that was an up-scale house for that area. The housing there is just so different.”
For Bob Ireland, who has been with the Habitat Care-A-Van for 13 years, this is his 53rd home build. The one thing all volunteers share is the thing that makes it all worthwhile.
“Seeing the new homeowners get a new home they wouldn’t have otherwise,” Ireland said. “Most of them would probably never own a home without this, and just to see the smiles on their faces and the tears in their eyes makes it all worth it.”
Richmond County ReStore Manager Jo Ann Thurman said having these volunteers who travel so far to help others is “more than a blessing.”
“Just to have a group of people like this - it’s amazing,” she said. “They’re so giving, and they work so hard. It’s just really awesome that even with the world the way it is today there are still people out here who are this way.”
While the Care-A-Van is in town, they are staying at the Sycamore Lodge, and Piedmont Natural Gas donated lunch to them Wednesday.
“We look forward to them coming,” Sycamore Manager Graham Wells said. “They’ve been coming for three years now, and it’s like having family come back to see us.”
Chad Blake and his wife Cassie make their home in Raleigh now, but became involved with Sandhills Habitat while living in the Pinehurst area during the early part of last decade.
“They’re just good people and it’s a good cause,” Blake said Wednesday. “There’s no bad side to it.”
Staff Writer Philip D. Brown can be reached at (910) 997-3111 ext. 32, or by e-mail at email@example.com.