Habitat coordinator gives volunteers a boost

Charles Paul

Charles Paul

April 29, 2007|by TIFFANY ARNOLD

Charles "Charlie" Paul, construction coordinator for Habitat For Humanity of Washington County, arrived for the interview wearing a sun-bleached "Habitat for Humanity" baseball cap, T-shirt and dirt-stained jeans.

He had been to Habitat's latest project, a house on Wayside Avenue in Hagerstown, that morning and dropped by for the interview after picking up a few materials for the build.

He makes his job - which involves working with contractors, volunteers and those who provide building materials - seem deceptively simple: "My job is to just allow all these people to do their jobs," said Paul, 60, of Hagerstown.

"I don't know what I'd do without him," said Sherry Brown Cooper, executive director of Habitat.

Brown Cooper hired him as the construction coordinator for Habitat two years ago.

"He came to one of our building committee meetings," Brown Cooper said. "I just sensed off the bat that he had the right temperament to work with volunteers and our build committee. That's when I began talking to him about the job."


Paul has been involved with Habitat's Women's Build program, through which women volunteers build houses together. He also has been involved in "building blitzes" across the country, Brown Cooper said.

Building blitzes involve Habitat volunteers from various locations uniting to build a number of houses in a matter of days.

In November, he was one of a team of 300 volunteers who participated in a 10-house building blitz in Nashville over the course of a week.

Paul has helped build four Habitat homes in the Washington County area since he started as a volunteer. The most recent home, at Wayside, was expected to be finished by Thanksgiving, Paul said.

Brown Cooper said the number of Habitat volunteers went from around 150 in 2005, when Paul started, to an average of around 250.

Brown Cooper credited that increase to Paul's leadership and likability.

"He makes our volunteers feel special," she said. "He's empowering them, not just telling them 'do this, do that.'"

Paul said his people skills come from 35 years of working as a copy machine repairman before his retirement.

Paul is married and has three children and three grandchildren.


Name: Charles "Charlie" Paul

Hometown: Hagerstown

Occupation: Construction coordinator for Habitat for Humanity of Washington County

What was your proudest moment?: Giving the homeowner the keys to the first house he worked on from beginning to end.

Whom do you most admire and why?: "I would have to say my parents, my father. I think it's only natural that a child looks up to, wants to be like, his father."

What is the best advice you'd ever received and who gave it to you?: "I'd say treat others the way you want to be treated. My parents taught me that."

What is the next goal you'd like to achieve?: "I already am a grandfather. I guess (be) a grandfather for each of my children."

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