If you met Don Fishman, you might not realize right away that he is one of the biggest charitable donors in his community.

But that's exactly what he his. He and his fellow Habitat for Humanity volunteers may not ever pull out their checkbooks and write down a figure with a lot of zeros, but the value of the labor they provide soars into tens of thousands of dollars with home they help build, according to Heath Duncan, executive director of Habitat for Humanity of Hopkins County, in an article that recently appeared in the The Messenger.

Habitat homes in the area typically appraise for $110,000, but only cost around $70,000 to build because of the value of the labor that volunteers provide for free.

“Our largest donors are (volunteers),” Duncan told The Messenger. “The difference in $70,000 and $110,000 is largely because of them. That is a lot of money for every house — at least $30,000. By far, most of our money comes from them.”

In addition to the value provided by volunteers like Fishman, Habitat for Humanity of Hopkins County supports its work though several other fundraising streams. An annual campaign brings in $60,000 - $70,000 annually, and its annual auction brought in $47,000 this year. Its ReStore thrift store also supports the work, along with mortgage payments from homeowners.

Fishman's qualifications to volunteer did not include an extensive background in construction or special skills in carpentry. Like many volunteers, he simply came with a willing heart and teachable spirit.

When Fishman retired from his career as a nurse anesthetist last year, he wanted something to do with his newfound free time. He served on Habitat's board of directors, then jumped into volunteering on a project.

With guidance from the project's skilled and experienced leaders, Fishman quickly found himself contributing in a tangible, meaningful way.

“I didn’t really have any skills other than what men usually think they know,” he said, laughing, “but I have learned, and I didn’t find it hard. It was very easy to learn from these guys, and they have done it for years.”

It's that sense of teamwork, with more experienced volunteers mentoring less experienced volunteers, that makes a big undertaking—building an entire house—possible.

“The guys we have right now aren’t professional builders, but they are all handy,” Duncan said. “We’ve got postmasters, engineers, a phone company guy and a nurse anesthetist. Building a house isn’t rocket science. It seems like this big, complicated thing, but it’s not.”

Fishman plans to continue donating his time on future projects, and Habitat for Humanity of Hopkins County will have plenty to keep him busy. The Hopkins County chapter is one of the most productive in Kentucky, building more houses per capita than any other. The chapter will begin work on its 83 home before the end of the year, and five more homes are planned for 2019.

If you'd like to leverage the value of volunteers like Fishman and help build homes around the Commonwealth, we need your help. All through October, proceeds from contributions made will support the effort put forth by the Hopkins County affiliate. Be part of it! Click here to help. 

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Oct 1, 2018 By Shane Shaps