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The Gaffords’ Labor of Love

Posted on June 6, 2024

The Gaffords’ Labor of Love

For long-time Fox Cities Habitat volunteers Chuck and Terri Gafford, home is where their heart is; and their hearts are in the homes they help build. Their tireless dedication has transformed lives and created countless new beginnings for families in need. We recently had the opportunity to meet with the Gafford’s to discuss their incredible volunteer journey as a couple, the deep meaning Habitat holds for them, and to share some of the beautiful memories they’ve created along the way. To see their interview and hear more about their story, watch the video below!

The Gaffords’ Labor of Love

The Gaffords began volunteering with Fox Cities Habitat with a simple desire to make a difference in their community and try something new together. Terri discovered her passion for volunteering during a transformative Habitat trip to Poland. She returned home with newfound encouragement to give more of herself, and the motivation to become a team leader. She encouraged Chuck to join her, and together they started a volunteer journey that has changed a multitude of lives and helped welcome many families home.

Their love for each other and their commitment to their relationship shine through in their volunteer efforts. As team leaders, they have poured their hearts into projects in the Fox Cities and across the globe. From Poland, Hungary, Macedonia, Romania, and the United States, they have dedicated themselves to building houses and aiding in disaster recovery. Their selflessness knows no bounds; as long as they have a suitcase and a way to communicate, they are ready to go wherever they are needed.

Volunteering has not only brought them closer as a couple but has also strengthened their bond in ways they never imagined. They have found immense joy and purpose in working side by side, whether they are hammering nails or building relationships with families. Their love and commitment to each other and to Habitat are evident in everything they do.

“If we couldn’t do it together, it wouldn’t be the same. We both grew up in situations where we knew how important a home was. When we experience this with Habitat… it brings a smile to our faces every time.”

– Chuck Gafford

Terri and Chuck Gafford

With every volunteer opportunity comes lifelong memories for the Gaffords – one of their most cherished memories is from their first trip to Poland. While working on an apartment building and pouring concrete floors, they encountered a future Habitat homeowner, who was diligently working on his sweat equity hours. He was kneeling in the gravel with no knee pads and bloody knees. They quickly grabbed a nurse, helped clean him up, and got to work on helping him. It was brought to their attention that his name was Sebastian and that he was a deaf mute with no ability to communicate with them in a usual manner.

By drawing in the dirt, they found a form of communication that worked for the both of them so they could complete the week-long task together. When it was time to say goodbye, Sebastian, with tears streaming down his face, gave Chuck a heartfelt hug. The five days spent assisting Sebastian meant more to him than most could ever understand. Chuck will never forget that moment, as it emphasized the profound impact that volunteering can have on those we serve.

“I’ve had the pleasure of participating in Habitat and Thrivent builds with Chuck and Terri four times, internationally and within the United States. Through those, I’ve made lasting friendships with team members around the world, learned about cultures and housing needs very different from our own, and stretched myself in ways I didn’t think possible.

On our first night together during my first build in Macedonia, Chuck explained what our priorities would be for the week: 1 – Safety; 2 – Relationships; 3 – Building. ‘In that order,’ he said. During every build, we work safely and make great progress on the build sites, but it’s the relationships I made that are truly life-changing.”

– Amy Ristow, Chief Operating Officer

Joining Chuck and Terri on a volunteer project is more than just lending a hand; it’s becoming part of a family that believes in building a better world together. Their passion is infectious, and their stories of hope and resilience remind us all of the extraordinary impact that can be made when we give of ourselves selflessly.

Chuck and Terri’s story is a testament to the power of their love, compassion, and dedication. The impact Fox Cities Habitat has made is directly because of committed volunteers like them. Thank you both, and all volunteers, for the endless time, energy, and support you have given to this organization.

There are a variety of volunteer opportunities at Fox Cities Habitat, and we’re certain there’s a role that is just right for you. For more information on how you can volunteer alongside wonderful people like Chuck and Terri, visit our volunteer page.