Providing a Hand Up and Not a Handout
Habitat for Humanity of South Palm Beach County staff member Russell Sykes started as a volunteer and is now our Senior Construction Manager. Here, in his own words, is Russell’s Habitat story.
“A good friend of mine recommended Habitat for Humanity to me to do volunteer work. At the time, I was just looking for something to do to fill some of my days since retirement. Truthfully, I didn’t know much about Habitat other than that Jimmy Carter had founded it. Of course, I later learned that that was incorrect.”
The Power of Home Ownership
It wasn’t until I began volunteering at Habitat that I truly learned Habitat’s history, mission and vision. Upon learning this, I realized that the basic beliefs of Habitat are very similar to beliefs that I had always held. I had always believed in the power of homeownership and having a safe, decent, place to live. I had a friend who once said (and said it three times) that’s there no place like home, there’s no place like home, there’s no place like home. And as I have come to know from firsthand experience, when all else is wrong in the world, you can always go home to a place of safety, warmth and love.
I have also always believed in the concept of a “hand up and not a handout”. I have always said that I will go halfway down the road to meet or help any person, but that they must come halfway up that road; and then, we can come up that road together. Similar concepts, thoughts and beliefs. That’s why I am here at Habitat.
I love the fact that Habitat homeowners help build their own homes alongside volunteers and pay an affordable mortgage. I also love the idea of improving neighborhoods, one house at a time, whether through new construction or through existing home revitalization.
Working At Habitat
My current position at Habitat is Senior Construction Manager. I am responsible for construction permits, house inspections, subcontractor management, building material ordering and new construction closeout. I have held this position since September 2018. Before that, I volunteered at the Delray Beach Habitat ReStore from April 2016 to December 2016 and volunteered at the Habitat administrative office in Delray from April 2017 through September 2018.
During my time volunteering at the ReStore, I enjoyed the employees and other volunteers who were very dedicated to their work. While at the ReStore, I truly enjoyed the repeat customers, who came two to three times a week making purchases. We came to know each other’s names, talked about our families and always laughed about what items we had received and what they were shopping for today. They made the day go fast for me.
Given the challenging environments from which I came, Habitat has been an enlightenment for me and a way to give back to the community. Habitat is very important to me and my life.
Make a Difference in Our Community
Do you want to join Russell in making a difference in our community? Get Involved in SPBC Habitat for Humanity volunteer opportunities!