Habitat for Humanity of Porter County is known for the great work they do to in the area, building homes and dreams for those in need, but none of this work would be possible without the countless dedicated volunteers who donate their time and skills to make those dreams possible. Two longtime volunteers are Bill Rosenthal and John Schopp who routinely volunteer their time and services to building homes for Habitat.
Rosenthal is on his 8th year of service now, aiding with the construction of at least 11 homes over that time, and Schopp for five to six years regularly, though he has history helping out with Habitat going back over twenty years off and on.
“I started at the house on Morgan, and I just did some painting,” said Rosenthal, who has now taken on a much more expansive role.
Schopp is a retired union carpenter so he has seen his fair share of construction projects in his day, something he brings to the job site for Habitat. Rosenthal is a retired electrical engineer with a carpenter for a father, so he had plenty of hands-on experience growing up as well.
“John is a great teacher, it’s just great to watch how he does things, I tend to look at it and think, ‘I like that a lot more than the way I was doing it!” said Rosenthal.
Even still, Habitat offers training for their volunteers, and Rosenthal and Schopp enjoy teaching new volunteers and leading them along the way to get the job done. They’ve had students, real estate agents, construction workers, and everything in between come out to help, all with varying degrees of experience. They’ve had groups of 15 or more come in at once, so training has become a duty Schopp and Rosenthal have been proud to take on. When volunteers return, they also find it rewarding to see their progression.
“It’s a lot of fun when you get these untrained people that have never done much in the way of construction,” stated Rosenthal. “Just watching over them and making sure everything is getting done right.”
“We might get 15 kids from the University down here, and we and the site managers just break it down into simple tasks and it all gets done,” said Schopp.
Getting involved with Habitat was a natural progression for both men, who enjoy being involved in helping their local community, and have been involved in bettering Northwest Indiana for many years now.
“I saw Jimmy Carter talking about Habitat for Humanity and I looked it up online and saw Porter County had one and I just showed up,” said Rosenthal.
“Just giving back to the community, both Bill and myself have worked for other organizations locally, and it’s great to give back,” said Schopp.
Even after all these years of helping Habitat for Humanity of Porter County, Schopp and Rosenthal still enjoy being involved just as much as when they began.
“Working with other people and meeting new people, is the most rewarding thing I would say,” said Rosenthal.
“The homeowners are always there and constantly thanking you and you can see they appreciate it and see the progress getting made day by day,” said Schopp.
The homeowners-to-be have to put in around 300 hours of effort into the build themselves, so the volunteers and homeowners tend to form a connection through the build. The newest Habitat house is for the Forste Family, a family of ten, and will be the largest Habitat home in all of Porter County to date.
“This’ll be the biggest one we’ve built and the first one with a basement, it’s exciting,” said Schopp.
With dedicated volunteers like Schopp and Rosenthal, helping to oversee their fellow builders, Habitat for Humanity of Porter County is sure to have a stronger and better volunteer crew for the many projects to come.
To learn more about Habitat for Humanity of Porter County or volunteer yourself, click here.