A pair of Habitat volunteers
For the last six years a Marietta husband-wife team have been working with the Washington County Habitat for Humanity to get houses ready for those in need.
Though Keith and Tami Tuten each have different jobs (Keith works on actually building the houses while Tami serves on committees and the board) they both get fulfillment from the work.
The Tutens started working with the organization through a neighbor and show no signs of slowing down.
Question: How long have you been volunteers with Habitat?
Keith Tuten: Six years.
Tami Tuten: I’ve been on the board six years this June.
Q: Why did you decide to get involved? Did you decide together?
KT: My neighbor was a volunteer and he asked me to help. I just kind of stuck with it. (Tami) joined at the same time.
TT: It sounded like something we really wanted to do. To work together is really beneficial too, for us to spend time together.
Q: Keith, why did you decide to stick with it?
KT: I enjoyed the construction process and helping get the house built. I just enjoy that kind of work.
Q: How often do you volunteer, how many hours a week?
KT: When we’re in the construction phase of the house, weather permitting, volunteers work Thursday and Saturday. Unless I’m out of town, I work every Saturday from 8:30 (a.m.) until about 2 (p.m.).
TT: I don’t know if I can put it in weekly (hours). I don’t put in as many hours as Keith does; he does the actual building.
Q: What are some of your responsibilities with Habitat?
KT: I help coordinate some of the contractors that we use and help plan projects. There’s a gentleman, a site supervisor, I assist him with getting supplies. (I also help build and get) smashed fingers and all that stuff. It can be (painful).
TT: We do different things. Habitat has a lot of areas you can get involved in. The family selection committee, the nurturing committee. We work with the homeowner when they’re getting the house. Whenever they need help, the nurturing committee helps them. We help in getting community and church groups who want to feed workers on Saturday; they volunteer to feed the workers.
Q: What are some challenges you encounter?
KT: We always struggle with volunteers and having enough volunteers to get projects completed on time. The weather is always a factor. If you get rained out one week…you lose a lot of time. It slows the whole project down.
TT: Not really (any). Once you get volunteers, it’s great. Coordinating volunteers (can be difficult) and making sure you get the help you need on the days you need it. I really can’t say anything bad about it.
Q: What’s the most rewarding part of what you do?
KT: The home dedication. When it’s all over, that’s the best part…To finally see someone who’s been in need of housing to finally get there..It is (satisfying), very much so.
TT: I’d say just being around partner families that are selected. Just to see how much pride they have, working on their own homes, building their own homes, the gratitude they have when it’s finished. It’s so rewarding they have a great place to live.
Q: How can people get involved?
KT: They should call Dennis at the office (373-9764). To get involved, if you want you can donate money, a service, of if you want to work on a committee. There are lots of ways to get involved.
TT: We need board members from time to time. There are lots of various jobs they can do. They can do as much as they want to get involved.
Q: Are there any ongoing projects?
KT: We have one (house) under construction currently. It needs to be finished by the end of September. Hopefully, weather permitting, we could start the next one.
Q: Is there anything you’d like to add about Habitat?
KT: These houses aren’t free; lots of people think we build them and give them to people. They put on equity themselves with helping us build the house. They have a low interest loan and help pay for the house, and that money goes…for materials to build another house and keeps it going.
TT: It’s a very worthwhile organization. You feel very rewarded by being a part of it.
Amanda Nicholson conducted this interview.