WARSAW — Studies show that the percentage of Americans volunteering has dwindled in recent years – apparently someone forgot to tell Tippecanoe Lake resident Dan Kuhn. For the past two and a half years Kuhn has spent most days volunteering at Habitat for Humanity of Kosciusko County.
Kuhn is a former high school teacher. He began his teaching career in 1971. In 1976 he started working at Warsaw Community High School, teaching U.S. History. He remained there until his retirement in 2014.
Following his retirement, he took a summer off. In the fall of 2014, Kuhn said he felt he needed to do something worthwhile. Kuhn said he wanted to volunteer in some capacity and since he is “pretty handy with tools” and has been building things his entire life, Habitat for Humanity seemed like a viable option.
“I’ve always respected Habitat and what they do and how they do it. It’s a great program – so it was the logical choice for me,” said Kuhn.
Diana Creech, Leesburg, president of Habitat Board of Directors and architect for Habitat, attends St. Anne’s Episcopal Church, Warsaw, where Kuhn is also a member. Kuhn approached Creech and asked if Habitat needed help. They did, of course, so Creech gave him contact information for David Kaufman, construction manager for Habitat in Kosciusko County. Kuhn contacted Kaufman and started his volunteer work with Habitat at a home that was being constructed in North Webster.
Founded in 1976 by the late Millard Fuller and his wife, Linda, Habitat for Humanity International is a nonprofit, Christian housing ministry dedicated to eliminating substandard housing and homelessness worldwide. Habitat invites people from all faiths and walks of life to work together in partnership.
Each partner family with Habitat purchases their home. Habitat houses are built using donations of land, material and labor so mortgage payments are kept affordable for families who would not qualify for traditional financing. Each partner family is required to contribute at least 250 hours of sweat equity on the construction of their home and/or another Habitat home. They also attend financial education and budget planning classes.
Kuhn does a little bit of everything on the houses, from framing to plumbing and electrical. Kuhn’s father was a civil engineer, and Kuhn began helping him with construction jobs starting around the age of 16. He also has done training with Habitat and is a certified safety volunteer, which means he can oversee the safety issues of volunteers on the work sites.
Kuhn said he gets to work with “An amazing crew of volunteers who are caring, quick to learn and a lot of fun to work with.” He mentions some by name, including Eric Satterley, Warsaw, Pat Mangan, Warsaw, Lori and Neil Donahoe, Milford, and Brent Hisey, Warsaw. Kuhn expressed admiration for Hisey, stating that Hisey works a full time night shift job and then comes to volunteer with Habitat until noon most days.
Kuhn and his wife, referred to by Kuhn as “the lovely and charming Julie,” have two daughters, Emily and Nicole.
When asked what he most enjoys about the volunteer work he does with Habitat, Kuhn responds it is meeting the people who are receiving the homes and turning the house over to the new homeowner. He also reports feeling satisfaction when looking back at the end of the day and seeing how much they, as a group, have accomplished.
Mickey Kaufman, executive director of Habitat for Humanity of Kosciusko County, states, “Dan has been a faithful volunteer for over two years. He has helped on several houses, helped with donated materials, done several deconstructs and generally has been willing to do just about everything we have needed help with. His involvement with Habitat is a wonderful inspiration.”
Kuhn describes David and Mickey Kaufman as, “Amazing people who have made a huge difference in the program.”
According to Kuhn, Habitat for Humanity is exactly what he expected it to be, “Really great people.”