By Paige Atwell
They say that there are several different things that go into truly making a house feel like a home, and if you were to ask Habitat for Humanity Williamson-Maury volunteers Cathy Culp and Carol McDaniel, they couldn’t agree more.
Spending a large chunk of their time volunteering as builders and designers for Habitat for Humanity Williamson-Maury, Cathy and Carol are quite the dynamic duo. With equal passions for serving and always being willing to do more, it’s easy to see why they work so well together.
Cathy got her start with Habitat for Humanity Williamson-Maury after seeing an ad for volunteers in her church bulletin at Brentwood Baptist Church. After two years of volunteering in the organization, Cathy found herself wondering what more she could do to help. “I really wanted to do something that I was passionate about as opposed to something that I had to do in order to earn money,” explained Cathy. “I later went to a class at church that was supposed to help us figure out how we could best use our abilities and passions. It just hit me after that class; instead of getting a degree in interior design, why don’t you do that for the Habitat owner?”
In 2009, Cathy reached out to the soon-to-be owner of the Habitat home she was working on to see if she could choose any room for her to decorate, which would it be? The mother chose her thirteen-year- old daughter’s room, explaining that it had been difficult for her to leave their beautiful home when her father left them. So, Cathy looked around her own house to see what she might be able to refurbish, got ideas on colors and designs that she liked and got to work. In the end, what was supposed to be one room turned into a full home design. “It just really fulfilled what I was looking for,” explains Cathy.
In 2010, Habitat for Humanity started Women Build, a themed build event meant to connect their organization with women-owned businesses and women volunteers. It was at the first meeting for this new event that Cathy first met Carol, and as Cathy says, “what a godsend that was.” After losing her husband and retiring all in the same year, Carol found herself in a big transitional period. When she met Cathy and heard about what she was doing, she knew it was something she wanted to be a part of. “I’ve always been handy and good with DIY projects at home,” said Carol. “So I kind of knew this was something I would love.”
And as the saying goes, the rest is history. Over the years, Cathy and Carol have went from designing rooms to furnishing entire houses. Combining their skills, the two are the perfect pair. From her first project, Cathy taught herself how to refurbish and rebuild pieces, so she handles more of the furniture and big items. On the more creative side, Carol enjoys sowing and crafting accessories for the home, and has even created original paintings for home recipients. While they do work with Habitat’s local ReStore and receive gently used donations, they still end up using a lot of their own time and resources. Each project depends on the specific family’s needs, and there isn’t much they haven’t done. But from a glam home makeover, to Spider Man and princess-themed bedrooms, there has yet to be one they haven’t loved.
“I’ve volunteered for other things and I still do, but this has become my passion too,” explains Carol. “We just love to work with the homeowners and get to know them. We just feel like rather than writing a check, we’re really impacting their lives.”
Habitat for Humanity Williamson-Maury prides themselves on being an organization that helps provide affordable housing for all. Their mission is to enhance pride in home ownership through not only beautifully built neighborhoods, but also by providing affordable mortgage payments, educational courses on budgeting and home ownership and stable environments for families that have proven to have long term benefits such as higher graduation and performance rates.
“We serve teachers, firefighters, police officers, people that work at hospitals and gas stations,” explains Jennee. “People think it’s only for low income families but it’s not; It could be any of us.”
If you’re looking for ways to help or get involved, Habitat for Humanity Williamson-Maury is always looking for new volunteers. You can also make monetary donations online, home goods and clothing donations to their ReStore or start volunteer groups in your church, business or neighborhood.
“I just wanted to include Genesis 12:2: ‘I will bless you so that you will be a blessing,’” said Cathy. “That passage has always stuck home with me and is part of why I do this. I feel so fortunate to be able to do this. I’m continually blessed. The way things come together, it’s not a coincidence. God really is moving and makes all this possible. It’s just really amazing to look at the little miracles that come together on some of these houses.”
For more information on Habitat for Humanity Williamson-Maury, visit hfhwm.org.