May is Older Americans Month. It is a time to recognize the contributions of older adults across the nation. Here at Habitat for Humanity – DeKalb, the average age of our core volunteers is between age sixty-five to seventy-five.

Our construction team is that core group. We literally would not have been able to help as many deserving people – many seniors – as we did in the pandemic year without them. They are a dynamic, strong-minded, and talented group.

Volunteers like Chip who is a retired Real Estate Appraiser who has participated in every build since 2015. Volunteers like Ron, a veteran and retired professor, who has volunteered with us for over 20 years – another career one might say!

Then there is Tom who has worked on over 2 dozen projects having gotten involved with his church years ago. And Allen a recent transplant from Pennsylvania who did not rest on his laurels in retirement. He got involved and says he found a new family at HFHD! All of the men talk about their love for teaching other volunteers how to use tools and build.

Older adults have built strength and resilience throughout their years. We must be sure resources are in place to protect our older population and help them age in place for as long as possible.

Habitat DeKalb has provided programs to support older Americans in DeKalb County age in place safely for over a decade. We have been able to provide repairs to hundreds of individuals through a loan program and generous grants from organizations like Home Depot, Lowes, Habitat for Humanity International, and Wells Fargo.

One such older American was Herman. Herman devoted his life to serving others and was recognized by President Ronald Reagan as one of the Peace Corps’ “Magnificent 7.”

But after the Great Recession and a housing bust, it was Herman’s turn to ask for help. Through our senior repair program he was able to put air conditioning in his home, and repair a dangerous and rotting deck.

Sharon Steele, Executive Director, recently reported to the Champion Newspaper, “Part of our program is ensuring that we can keep them in their neighborhood, which is good for the families and good for the seniors’ mental health, of course.”

At Habitat for Humanity – DeKalb we have so much gratitude and respect for the older individuals we serve and work with on a daily basis.

“The improvements made to my house by Habitat for Humanity – DeKalb,” Herman says, “have made a tremendous difference in my life.”