Browse Volunteer Guide for more articles like this.

Build a home for someone in need

A group of students from the University of Missouri spent the winter break in Corpus Christi building homes for the local Habitat for Humanity chapter. Volunteer coordinator Priscilla Hinojosa said more homes can be built if more volunteers can be found. Photo by Nickie Snow Stillman

Two Corpus Christi families turned the keys in the locks of their own homes last year thanks to their partnership with Habitat for Humanity-Corpus Christi (HFH-CC). The local chapter of the nonprofit organization has placed more than 45 low-income families in homes since its founding in 1989.

This impressive achievement is accomplished with the collective efforts of sponsors, businesses, churches, community organizations and individuals. Through these partnerships, HFH-CC secures land and builds safe, well-constructed homes from the ground up. Families slated to move in help with the building.

Currently, the Corpus Christi chapter averages two to five homes a year; however, the staff and leadership are committed to doing more. According to Habitat for Humanity International, communities similar in size to Corpus Christi could be building 10-15 homes a year.

“There is a need for decent housing in our area,” said Priscilla Hinojosa, HFH-CC volunteer coordinator. “The more volunteers, the faster the homes will be built.”

A variety of options are available for people to donate their time and services, Hinojosa said.

“Our volunteers get a lot of satisfaction from their participation,” she said. “People will feel it in their heart if they want to continue to volunteer.”

Companies can organize a volunteer build day for employees. Participation can be scheduled to work during certain stages of the build, such as the framing or painting stages.

“This is also a great option for individuals,” Hinojosa said.

Some volunteers begin with a company program then return on their own time. Retiree Bob Gillespie has continued and is now working on current builds in Corpus Christi as an RV Care-A-Vanner, a Habitat for Humanity program.

“I volunteered through my company for five years and really loved the experience,” Gillespie said. “Once I retired, I was still interested in working with the Habitat for Humanity organization. So now my wife and I travel in our RV to where the builds are to participate as official Habitat for Humanity Care-A-Vanners.”

Fellow RV Care-A-Vanner Maria Small participates in builds six months out of the year.

“I like being a part of an effort that really is a hand up for people,” she said. “We are building a home for an individual family, but these homes build communities.”

To date, about 1,500 active RV Care-A-Vanners donate their services to Habitat builds around the world.

Habitat also has tremendous youth support.

“Our busiest time is March, during Spring Break,” Hinojosa said. “Lots of students pay their way to spend their break at a build site. It’s great watching the Care-A-Vanners and Spring Breakers all working together.”

The motto of Habitat for Humanity is to “offer a hand up not a hand out.” Homeowners must participate in the building process by devoting 300-500 hours of sweat equity to their home. Families do not receive a free home. Rather, they receive an interest-free mortgage, so their house payment can be as low as $400-$600.


The application process is straightforward. Visit the Habitat for Humanity-Corpus Christi website at and click on the “Get Involved” tab at the top of the page. Or call the office at (361) 289-1740. Once paperwork is completed, you could be on a build site within a day.

No construction experience is necessary, but construction supervisor Mark Blankenship emphasized that experienced construction trades volunteers are greatly appreciated. The minimum age requirement is 16. Primary build days are Monday, Tuesday, Friday and Saturday from 7:30 a.m. to noon throughout the year.

Hammers and nails not your thing? HFH-CC has many areas where your talents can be used including clerical, committee projects, administrative duties and providing lunches for the construction crews. Volunteers to work shifts at the Habitat for Humanity ReStore—a home improvement retail outlet — are also needed.

Find more articles like this in Volunteer Guide

Leave a reply