Volunteer Spotlight: Greg Griffin
If you’re working towards owning a Beaches Habitat for Humanity home, you’re likely to see quite a bit of Greg Griffin. One of the most patient and even-keeled people you’ll ever meet, Greg leads on and off the construction site, serving as a volunteer in multiple roles. And it all started because of his daughter!
As a senior in high school, Greg’s daughter, Shannon, was the head of a community service organization at her school. When Beaches Habitat needed many helping hands to landscape their 32 home community, Haywood Estates, Shannon’s organization stepped up to plant trees and lay sod. Since youth groups need to have adult supervisors, Shannon asked her dad to come along. While he was helping the students with yard work, Greg noticed the other volunteer work happening and asked about returning to help with construction. It seemed like a good fit for Greg – his entire life, he has known how to use a hammer and do light woodwork, thanks to his dad.
Greg grew up on the Southside of Chicago, where his father demonstrated the value of hard work. “My dad was one of those people always doing something around the house. He grew up on a farm; he was used to doing everything. So, growing up with him, I can’t remember not being able to use a hammer or not being able to use a saw.”
“My dad was one of those people always doing something around the house.”
In Chicago, Greg attended private school and was inspired to pursue his future career after taking Business Law classes in high school. He had originally planned to study engineering but switched to business instead. After completing his degree, Greg moved to Arizona to be closer to his parents, who had relocated there. He took a job with IBM but not long after decided that it was time to branch out. He joined the Air Force and was deployed to the Philippines for a year.
When he returned to the States, Greg hoped to be stationed in Florida. Just before deployment, he had met Kathy, the woman he would later marry. Instead, he found himself at Barksdale Air Force Base in Shreveport, Louisiana and spent the next two years making regular 12-hour drives to Jacksonville.
After finishing his time with the Air Force, Greg returned to IBM, where he would work for the next 35 years. He and Kathy got married, settled down in Jacksonville and had two children. Greg enjoyed a long career of leadership with IBM where he had the opportunity to travel and also found time to volunteer. For Greg, family, education and mentorship are important. He has a close relationship with his two children, an engineer and a schoolteacher, and continues to volunteer in the community. “When I started volunteering, I began thinking about other people’s experiences a lot more.”
“When I started volunteering, I began thinking about other people’s experiences a lot more.”
In addition to taking on the role of Crew Leader on the construction site at Beaches Habitat, Greg also teaches financial literacy in a number of community settings, from charities to churches to jails. Greg felt that his education and years of experience could help people who didn’t have the same education that he did. “You can’t expect that people would know these things if nobody told them, so that’s when it became kind of apparent to me that… people have an opportunity to do better if they know better.”
“…people have an opportunity to do better if they know better.”
After several years of volunteering on the construction site, while Kathy served on the Family Selection Committee, Greg realized that his experience teaching financial literacy could be helpful at Beaches Habitat too.
All future homeowners at Beaches Habitat for Humanity complete sweat equity hours. Sweat equity is the term that Habitat uses for the volunteer hours that future homeowners contribute towards purchasing their homes. Many of those hours come from building on the construction site, but they also include a series of workshops. When Greg learned that Beaches Habitat was paying for future homeowners to attend financial literacy classes, classes that he knew were available at the United Way, he stepped in. Greg talked to Family Services Director, Joyce Freeman, and volunteered his time as a course provider.
Both on the construction site and in workshops, Greg is a leader and an inspiration. He has even given himself a new job title: growth and development facilitator. “I really can’t teach people,’ he says. “I can provide the information. Learning is dependent on the person. If they want to learn, I present information.”
Beaches Habitat is grateful for Greg and volunteers like him who are willing to facilitate growth and development for future homeowners and volunteers alike. Sweat Equity is an important principle of Habitat’s work, as are the workshops that future homeowners complete. Learn more about homeownership through Beaches Habitat for Humanity, including the workshops, on our Homeownership page.