Categories: Habitat Happenings, Volunteer, Faith, Habitat Tucson

“I’m going to keep doing this until my body says I can’t do it anymore”: Rick Witt

“I believe I’ve been given a gift. I’ve been blessed with the ability to build and do His work.” 

Rick Witt is a retired firefighter and HVAC professional from the Chicagoland area who considers himself a ‘snowbird,’ splitting the year between Tucson and East Troy, WI. Since retirement, he has become one of our most reliable and skilled framers, having volunteered for over six years and built over 93 homes in Tucson and Wisconsin. 

He started volunteering because, he says, “I was in the trades for 42 years and in my particular trade you get exposed to all aspects of carpentry, plumbing, electric, and sheet metal, etc. I’ve always believed I was given a God-given talent of being able to make things with my hands, so that’s why it was always on my bucket list. I knew I had something I could offer. I had knowledge that I could share to help others.” 

In Wisconsin, he shares, he mostly gets assigned to be the one to climb two-story ladders; in Tucson, there’s a bit more variety. Plus, the volume of construction that Habitat Tucson is implementing due to the new CHUCK modular wall panel ZIP system allows for a lot of variety from week to week. “We may be framing for a few weeks and in another week or two we’ll probably be doing some trimming. I like seeing how fast the homes go up, especially with the new system here to where we can get a house up in a day.” 

What does Rick enjoy most about volunteering? “Standing back and seeing what I accomplished.” However, he adds, “I don’t enjoy getting up early. I usually ask myself, ‘Why am I doing this?’ But once I get there and get going, it’s all good and it’s rewarding.” Rick’s life motto: “I have a longtime attitude of PMA- Positive Mental Attitude. I try to live my life that way even when things aren’t going well- trying to stay positive.” 

As one of the more skilled volunteers on site, Rick also has an opportunity to mentor new volunteers. “Most people that work with me know that I have a look. Justifiably. When I was in the fire department, I was an officer and had people working underneath me. I could just look at them and they would see my eyes and know they messed up. Then of course I’d talk to people about it, and say, ‘OK, what if you did it this way?’” 

If someone is considering volunteering, Rick would encourage them to just take the leap! “Don’t be afraid if you don’t have the skills. There are people there who will hold your hand, so to speak, and give you those skills. I’ve watched people since I’ve been here start out with very limited knowledge and now they can be set on their own. It’ll pay off for you. Nothing to be afraid of.”  

Rick is committed to ensuring quality for Habitat homeowners. He adds, “I’m all about quality, but also quantity. I enjoy being able to help people see their dreams come true. The faster I can move, the faster those dreams come true. Everybody at Habitat has the same focus which is being able to help families get home.” 

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