We’ve gathered the questions we hear most often so you can feel confident when you arrive for your shift, including questions on working on site, registering as a volunteer or learning more about Habitat.
Don’t see your question here? Contact our volunteer coordinator before you arrive, or ask our construction staff during your shift.
Working On Site with Habitat
What should volunteers wear at a New Construction or Neighborhood Revitalization site?
Choose clothing that is appropriate for the weather and can get dirty. Dress in layers so you can regulate your temperature indoors or outdoors. Avoid wearing anything that could catch on equipment, such as jewelry, drawstrings or ribbons. If you have long hair, tie it back for your safety, too. Wear shoes that cover the toes and have good grip. Personal protective equipment, such as safety goggles or hardhats, will be provided for you.
Should I bring anything?
Just as no experience is required, no equipment is required either. We will have the tools, supplies and safety gear for whatever you’ll be working on.
That said, there are a few things you might consider bringing: a refillable water bottle, sunscreen if the forecast is sunny, or waterproof clothing if it is rainy. First aid is available on site. If you have a specific medical condition that could require emergency treatment, such as allergies or asthma, please bring along anything you might need.
What happens if I don’t know how to use a power tool or other equipment?
Ask somebody! Don’t be shy—we don’t always know your skill level. When asked, Habitat staff will always demonstrate how to use tools safely. Whether something is entirely new to you or you need a refresher, we’ll show you how and encourage you to try it with us until you can do it correctly on your own.
To prevent accidents, we will step in if someone operates equipment dangerously. It’s always safer, though, to let us know if you need help before getting started. Otherwise, we encourage volunteers to learn and work at their own pace. If you’re not comfortable with a task, ask the shift supervisor. We can find alternatives so everyone can participate.
I’m not comfortable with heights. Do I have to get on a ladder?
Though we want to empower volunteers to try new things, if they are not ready, we will never force them. We will, however, make certain that ladders and scaffolding follow safety guidelines and provide volunteers with personal protective equipment. Despite these precautions, if you’re still uncomfortable with heights, a tool or a task, talk to the shift supervisor. We will happily suggest alternatives so everyone can contribute.
What will I be working on during my shift? Do volunteers help with electrical or plumbing work?
We are reluctant to predict what you will be working on since it often depends on you, our volunteer workforce. We don’t control the pace, skill or comfort level of any volunteers. As a result, we avoid scheduling specific tasks and can’t guarantee them in advance. We will do our best to make reasonable accommodations, however, if you notify the volunteer coordinator of your condition in advance.
For all other shifts, our construction team maps out a general timeline and organizes the work by priority. When you arrive, they will have the day’s most important tasks ready for you with tools and supplies. If that goes quickly, they’ll have more.
Certain tasks, however, including electrical, plumbing, roofing and HVAC, require licensed and bonded subcontractors. Though we can’t always know what you’ll be working on, it won’t be any of these.
Registering as a Volunteer
How old do volunteers need to be?
We welcome volunteers who are 14 years old or older. Youth volunteers must have signed consent from their parent or guardian and are limited to certain tasks:
Because of these limitations, we intentionally schedule youth volunteer dates. Contact our volunteer coordinator to learn what is available for your age group.
- No one under the age of 16 is allowed on a construction site while construction is going on.
- No one under the age of 18 is allowed to use power tools or ladders.
How do I find available volunteer opportunities?
Open shifts are posted on our website for construction and neighborhood revitalization. You can also register online to learn more about volunteering as a ReStore cashier or start a group request. If you are registered with us already, you can easily find them through our volunteer portal as well. If you prefer to speak to someone, call our volunteer coordinator at (605) 274-6292.
I have a group interested in volunteering. What is our next step?
We love having groups volunteer and can schedule shifts up to a year in advance. You can start a group request online or call (605) 274-6292 to see what dates are available.
I’ve never done this before. Is that a problem?
Not at all. No experience is required to volunteer. We’ll provide training and equipment for you. If you haven’t volunteered with us in the last year, all we need is a signed form before you arrive.
I can’t volunteer on a construction site, but I want to give my time. What other opportunities do you have?
We are always looking for ReStore cashiers. We also have a variety of opportunities with our Neighborhood Revitalization program. Call 605-274-6292 to learn more.
I heard you give away free houses. Is that true?
No, Habitat is not a giveaway program. In addition to a down payment and monthly mortgage payments, homeowners invest hundreds of hours of their own labor, called sweat equity, into building Habitat houses. When their home is finished, they purchase it from Habitat through an affordable loan program. Learn more about our homeownership program online.
Can anyone shop at the ReStore?
Yes, the ReStore is open to the public and anyone can shop there. If you have never been to our ReStore, come and check us out. We have inventory changing daily!
In what ways can I donate to Habitat?
We have a variety of ways you can donate to Habitat. You can donate your time by volunteering. We also accept donations for a variety of items at our ReStore. Financial donations also help fund our mission of affordable housing in Sioux Falls and the surrounding area.