Local/State

Person of the Week: Habitat Geezers

Friday, May 08, 2009

Pete Jones is one of the ringleaders of a band of volunteers who're affectionately called "The Geezers." They're all retired and they all work for free pounding nails, sawing boards, installing stair rails - whatever is needed - for Habitat for Humanity.

The group builds homes for low income families.

Jones, a 30-year radiologist in Durham, didn't really know what he was getting into when he signed on 14 years ago.

"When I first started out, I thought this is a bunch of guys who like to putter. And the longer I did it, the more I realized these folks work in the summertime when it's hot as blazes and in the winter when they're freezing to death. They're really dedicated to the homeowner," Jones explained. "We have built more houses than ever before. We have more volunteers than ever before and raised more money than we ever have before."

Their free labor makes up about 30 percent of the cost of the home. Habitat couldn't survive without it.

What had been a group of about 15 turned into about 75 when someone came up with the name "Geezers." It's now a badge of honor.

Jones got so involved that he served ten years on the Habitat board of directors with four years as chairman. For him, it's all about the people for whom these homes are being built.

"It's always satisfying to be in on the home dedication and see the family moving in and how grateful they are to have a place of their own and what it means to them as a family," he explained.

Jones had a hand in building all 31 homes in Hope Crossing in east Durham and seeing many of the brand new first-time homeowners move in.

The Geezers only work a half day. They are volunteers after all - a little old and they get tired. So, no one pushes them except - of course - themselves.

Click here to nominate a person of the week

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