The Valdosta Daily Times
Life is all about paying it forward, especially for Valdosta’s Habitat for Humanity Volunteer Coordinator Donnie Radney.
A graduate from Valdosta State University with a degree in political science, Radney never considered working for Habitat for Humanity until it unexpectedly came into his life.
“I didn’t have plans to work at Habitat. It just kind of fell into my lap,” Radney said. “A lot of jobs are hard to get. This didn’t really feel that way. I’ve loved it so far. Getting to deal with the people and meet people and hopefully be able to be a positive influence on people, even at a young age, that’s one of the things I like the most.”
Radney connected with Habitat for Humanity through a Goodwill job fair that took place earlier this year. Although he was hesitant at first to attend, Radney is thankful he participated and came out of the fair pleasantly surprised.
“I had never been to a job fair before. I was just looking for something different. I was working at a pharmacy and somebody gave me a call and said their was a job fair,” Radney said. “I did not want to waste my time going to a job fair because it’s not really geared towards people that have degrees, but I went anyway, just on a whim at my lunch break. It just so happens that Habitat was there and I was one of 40 or 50 names on the list to be called back. It was kind of crazy.”
Earning the title as Habitat’s volunteer coordinator just four short months ago, Radney compares this organization to a full-time ministry, something he and his wife, Shanna, hope to accomplish in the near future.
“Me and my wife were both very interested in being a full-time ministry and that’s what I really consider this job. We’re a Christian organization. You get to meet so many people, every single weekend, and we have the opportunity to do a devotion with them in the mornings,” Radney said. “We just really try to take the venue that we have and meet 25 to 30 different people every single weekend. I try to be the example that God has called me to be as a Christian.”
Even though Radney has only been a part of the Valdosta Habitat family for a short period of time, he has already accomplished so much. From participating in the recent construction of the finished Habitat home on Troup Street to currently helping build a city home on York, Radney believes this is only the beginning to a successful year.
“One thing about this job, I was surprised. When I started this job, I thought I was going to have to do everything short of knocking on people’s doors and begging them to volunteer and that’s one thing that hasn’t been true. We have a pretty good group of people that do volunteer,” Radney said. “It is a good experience. If you volunteer one time, you will have that feeling that I did a little something to make a difference. It is a selfless act. We do have a lot of people that come back again and again.”
With the amount of volunteers received each week, Habitat hopes to build four or five homes total by the end of this year. As the word grows and more people participate, the dream of accomplishing three more homes is possible.
“My faith is very important to me and to be able to have an organization to express that faith and now that I am able to lead devotions with my staff everyday and have that time allotted to be able to do that with strangers and volunteers, it’s one of the biggest things in my day,” Radney said.
His faith has led him to put others needs before his own. He has touched many lives throughout this organization and continues to be touched by families in crisis. Radney said people’s gratitude about receiving is worth everything.
“I was here two months before it ever really sunk in what we do and I read a letter from one of our homeowners, that was actually a partner family who was not a homeowner yet, who shared a little bit of her story. She worked two jobs, three kids, dad left and basically needed help,” Radney said. “I think that once I realized these families are real families and once you finally see it in a tangible form, that’s when it kind of hits home.”
Radney’s experience while building the home on Troup Street was truly rewarding and a great gift for new owner Kizzie Brown. Even though the keys have not been turned over into her possession, Donnie looks forward to that day near the end of June.
“Just a few weeks ago when we finished the lady’s home and she finished her hours, to see the look on her face. There are very few feelings that are like that. To know that she knew that she was done, the house was done and she was ready to get in it, that is such a feeling of accomplishment. I think feeling like you’re a part of something way bigger than you are, it’s indescribable. You can look back and say I did a small something to put this family in a home,” Radney said.
He is extremely grateful for his staff and volunteers. Habitat for Humanity pairs up with representatives from VSU, Moody Air Force Base, and local churches every weekend to start new projects or work on existing ones.
“As far as events this year, we have a 5K color run and we are excited about that. We have Building on Faith which uses a lot of the churches, and we have Freedom Build and that is actually for Moody Air Force Base. We try to build from a Saturday to Saturday and we hope to build an entire home in a week,” Radney said.
As Radney continues to make a difference in the community, he is also active within his church, Azalea City Church of God. He and his wife are part of the worship team and lead a young adult ministry.
Radney encourages people who are interested in joining Habitat to contact him, (229) 245-1330, ext. 27, or visit www.valdostahabitat.org