Habitat home recipient builds on foundation of volunteering

-A A +A

Wednesday's Woman: Scroll down to see bonus video

By Robert Villanueva

At 71 years old, Trish Crandall’s volunteer efforts include building houses.


“I can still swing a hammer,” the Elizabethtown resident said.

Crandall was the recipient of a house from Hardin County Habitat for Humanity, for which she was required to put in a minimum number of work hours. But after she fulfilled her obligations, she didn’t stop volunteering.

On Thursdays and Saturdays she continues to volunteer for the nonprofit organization, helping construct homes like the one in which she now lives. In all, she’s helped with the construction of seven houses.

“I just think I need to give back,” she said, noting others gave freely to help build her home.

Additionally, Crandall opens her home to volunteers and others who want to see what a Habitat home is like. Sometimes just a couple of people and sometimes larger groups visit.

In such cases, she not only is a hostess but an ambassador of sorts, showing off the home and its many amenities.

About the end of November 2012, while she was volunteering on a house build during cold weather, she got sick and was told she couldn’t volunteer again in such weather.

As the build continued, one day she noticed student volunteers working on the house.

“It was so cold, and those kids were just (frozen),” she said.

Crandall took the students hot chocolate and cookies.

For this, and all her volunteer efforts, Habitat presented her with a special honor designating her as an official hostess for the organization. The surprise honor was presented by Elizabethtown Mayor Edna Berger on behalf of the organization at a volunteer banquet less than two weeks ago.

“I just about died,” Crandall said.

The surprise honor, she said, had remained a secret until she received it. Now it is a source of pride and feelings she is hard-pressed to describe, she said.

“That plaque means everything to me,” she said.

Scott Turner, Hardin County Habitat For Humanity executive director, said Crandall has done much to help promote Habitat homes and perform volunteer work. When she volunteers, she is enthusiastic, he said.

“It’s just contagious, that attitude,” he said.

Recently, Crandall has joined a volunteer hospitality group that coordinates meals for those who volunteer on Saturdays. It is just another way she helps Habitat.

“I couldn’t tell you how many hours she’s volunteered,” Turner said.

Crandall said her volunteer efforts are the least she can do. When she originally applied for a Habitat home, it was only because members of her Sunday school class prodded her.

“Never in a million years would I have thought I would get a new home,” she said.

As she sat at a dining room table in her home, Crandall expressed incredulity at owning the home into which she moved in July 2012.

“It’s hard to believe it’s mine,” she said.

When she began working on Habitat homes as part of what is known as sweat equity, Crandall was new to such active work.

“I don’t think I ever drove a nail in my life,” she said.

Habitat personnel were patient with her, and she learned a lot about building a house. She values the experience and the new skills she’s acquired, which she finds can be applied to her own home.

“I’ve been underneath this house,” she said, explaining she installed insulation.

Though she doesn’t enjoy caulking and still is learning to use a power drill, Crandall encourages anyone who enjoys helping people to volunteer with Habitat.

For Crandall, the volunteer work is rewarding and, at least in part, her way of conveying her deep appreciation for what she has.

“It’s a privilege to live in this house,” she said.

Robert Villanueva can be reached at 270-505-1743 or rvillanueva@thenewsenterprise.com.

Constructing a fact sheet about Trish Crandall

  • City of birth: Murphysboro, Ill.
  • City of residence: Elizabethtown
  • Favorite music: Rock ‘n’ roll
  • Favorite TV show: “Dancing With the Stars”
  • Favorite book: “From the Heart,” by Robin Roberts
  • Favorite movie: “Grease”
  • Hobby: Gardening