Each month, we plan to highlight one of DC Habitat’s extraordinary volunteers here on our blog. We’ve chosen to start-off this summer by sharing an interview with one of our volunteer crew leaders.
Recently, we sat down with Sarah Anne Ryman, to chat about her experience volunteering with DC Habitat. Originally from Apalachin, NY, Sarah is 25 years old, is a graduate of Syracuse University and holds a Masters in Geography and International Relations from the University of Toronto. Her background is in refugee resettlement and she currently works in disaster programming support at the International Organization for Migration in Washington, DC. Sarah first became involved in construction by volunteering in New Orleans to rebuild Katrina impacted homes and has been volunteering with us since November of 2010.
DCHFH: What made you want to get involved with DC Habitat initially, and what makes you keep coming back to work with us?
SAR: Being new to D.C. last year, I signed up to volunteer with Habitat to make friends and to become involved with my new community. When I started in November, the houses were in the early stages of construction and now they are almost finished. I have enjoyed getting trained and working on the various tasks that go into building a house. My colleagues at Habitat, the volunteers that come out, and the homebuyers are incredible people and I have learned a lot from them.
DCHFH: What has been your most memorable or rewarding moment volunteering on our site or working with our staff and volunteers?
SAR: The most rewarding experience I’ve had in Ivy City was putting the first coat of paint on a house with the homebuyer and a great crew of volunteers. We walked through the bedrooms and imagined how the house would look when it was finished. We excitedly chatted about how to decorate the children’s bedrooms and how great the light will be when the sun rises. The staff, volunteers, and homebuyers put a lot of heart into their ‘sweat equity hours’ because we know the end product is a home that a family will move into.
DCHFH: How has your transition been from regular volunteer to a crew leader?
SAR: After having a great first experience on site, I made a commitment to volunteer every Saturday and to learn as much as possible from the staff. While I did not have many construction skills to bring to the table, I was able to communicate well with the volunteers and homebuyers. I even learned some Amharic to better lead crews with the Ethiopian homebuyers.
DCHFH: What do you like about the Habitat program?
SAR: I appreciate many aspects of the Habitat model. Homebuyers are required to put ‘sweat equity hours’ into their house and this develops a sense of ownership very early on.
Sarah has been an awesome volunteer crew leader and we look forward to working with her for a very long time. You can catch her every other Saturday out on our construction site in Ivy City!
Interview by Devin Cowens