Volunteer Spotlight – Rich LaBelle

Hope Builders Stories

How and when did you first get involved with HopeBUILDERS? 

El Slover from Saint Michael’s Church was retiring from the HopeBUILDERS board, and he asked if I would be interested in joining the group. I had just retired, and he made it sound worthwhile and even fun

What are some of your responsibilities within the organization? 

I served on the board for seven years, and have been involved in building ramps and some of the home repair projects

Why do you volunteer with HopeBUILDERS? 

The idea that you can build most ramps in a single day, and completely change someone’s life is something that most of us have never really experienced before. If you go into work on Monday morning and everyone is talking about the big game they watched on Saturday, there’s no one around the water cooler that doesn’t wish they had built the ramp instead of watching the game.

If you were to encourage someone else to volunteer with us, what would you say? 

You will never meet a more fun bunch of guys and girls. You can expect to be welcomed and will learn a lot about helping others. No special training is required, and any tool you would need is provided. What makes any group great is when you can accomplish something in your group that you could not as an individual. That is HopeBUILDERS.

Any favorite memories or projects that stand out? 

My favorite memories are the friends I have made, both clients, and volunteers. One lady gave me a thank you card letting me know what a difference the ramp had made. She was going to commit suicide the following week! One rehabilitation facility took up a collection to help pay for the ramp. The man had been calling the fire department three days a week for a year and he had to wait up to two hours every time so they could get him out of the house for therapy. Then wait another two hours to be carried back into the house after therapy. We sent them a picture after he came down the ramp the first time. They said it was the first time they had ever seen him smile.

What makes HopeBUILDERS different than other KC area nonprofits? 

The niche we serve is huge, and most of these people have minimal resources and are facing issues that would overwhelm most of us. I am amazed how many organizations are helping people in needing different ways. I think what makes us different is the immediate change in our client’s lives after a project is completed.