While many new volunteers have joined the Sisters Habitat for Humanity crew this year, one volunteer hung up his hat after more than 28 years serving the organization. Russell Williams, 96, was one of the first volunteers when Sisters Habitat was formed in 1991. He continued to volunteer in the Thrift Store and then the ReStore until last month.

Last week, he and the many other volunteers were honored at the 11th annual Sisters Habitat for Humanity Volunteer Appreciation Barbecue.

During the event 98 people, who have spent more than 100 hours of their time during the past year, were presented with certificates from the President’s Volunteer Service award program. Two groups were also honored for their work with the housing organization; The Heart of Oregon Corps YouthBuild, and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 280. A grand total of 252 people volunteered more than 27,000 hours at Habitat’s Thrift Store, ReStore, at the job site and serving on committees. That’s the equivalent of one person working 14 years, Executive Director Sharlene Weed said.

In addition to the President’s awards, Connie Cross was presented with Sisters Habitat’s 1,000-hour club award. This club was formed in 2009, and since that time 102 Sisters Habitat volunteers have been inducted. The club was formed to honor volunteers who serve a cumulative 1,000 hours.

Cross is a volunteer at the Thrift Store and spends her time pricing and organizing books. She also serves on the board of directors and a store committee.

“Connie is an amazing volunteer, she has passion for people, books and projects. I appreciate her ability to see the bigger picture. If you want something done she is a great person to ask, and I love how she raises her eyebrows and gives you her honest opinion. I am very grateful to have her as a volunteer, she is the best,” Thrift Store Manager Josie Newport said.

Homeowner Penny Guinn spoke at the event to thank volunteers. Guinn, who will soon be moving from her home to be near her kids, said “I am grateful for my house and the equity I’ve earned. It’s bittersweet, but without my home I would not be able to make this move. Thank you all for what you’ve done for me.”

Those interested in volunteering with Sisters Habitat can attend a volunteer orientation session which is offered on the first and third Wednesday of each month. For more information and to register contact Marie Clasen at marie@sistershabitat.org or 541-549-1193.

Through Habitat for Humanity, families and individuals in need of a hand up partner with Sisters Habitat to build or improve a place they can call home. Future homeowners help build their own homes alongside volunteers, and pay an affordable mortgage. Through financial support, volunteering or adding a voice to support affordable housing, everyone can help families achieve the strength, stability and self-reliance they need to build better lives for themselves.