By Starla Pointer • Staff Writer • 

Building up a habitat volunteer

Steve Gould looks at Habitat for Humanity’s latest home with pride.

“It’s a good house,” he said. “Good construction. As you can see, it’s perfect.”

He should be proud. He has helped with every aspect of the work.

An enthusiastic volunteer, he’s been spending every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday on the job site, doing whatever needs doing.

“Next, we’re going to hang the garage door and paint it,” he said. “See the scaffolding? I was up there.”

When he first started volunteering on building sites, Gould found scaffolding scary. But he’s gotten used to it.

These days, he enjoys every aspect of framing and finishing, even up high.

Gould’s first job, when he signed on the Habitat ReStore four years ago, didn’t involve construction. It involved deconstruction.

He was soon enlisted for projects like dismantling two houses and a shed near Cascade Steel Rolling Mills. The materials from the houses were recycled through the store to be used in new construction.

Gould was one of several volunteers honored Saturday, Feb. 23, at the nonprofit organization’s annual volunteer appreciation dinner. He was honored for amassing more than 2,500 hours on Habitat projects.

“He does everything,” said Diane Longaker, Habitat volunteer coordinator. “If we need him to paint trim or spread rock or do framing, he does it, whatever is asked of him. Other volunteers are floored by his incredibly passionate commitment.”

Roy Dorshimer, Habitat’s construction supervisor, also praised Gould.

“This guy will do anything you tell him to do — nail something, paint something,” he said affectionately. “And he always has a good attitude. He never gets mad or upset.”

Also honored at the appreciation dinner were Cliff Probasco and Doug Cruikshank, both of whom have given more than 1,500 hours doing construction and serving on the board of directors, and Nancy Payne, a stalwart at the ReStore, who’s put in more than 1,300 hours.

In addition, Habitat awarded gold hammers to longtime volunteer Courtney Harris, a board member who is heading up the group’s new marketing committee, and Dick Larson, a new volunteer who’s already put in 250 hours.

The honorees are among about 400 volunteers who help Habitat in some way each year, Longaker said. In 2012, they donated more than 12,000 hours collectively, on projects that ranged from manning the front desk of ReStore to raising funds to working at building sites.

Gould focused on the latter.

“The construction process is just really neat,” he said. “I can’t get enough of it.”

After he moved from the ReStore side to the construction side, his first project was helping remodel a home in Lafayette. He and other volunteers painted the house inside and out, re-did some walls and installed a sink, flooring and appliances in the kitchen.

He’s been working on the current project, Habitat’s second home on Elmwood Avenue, since ground was broken. One of the most exciting aspects was climbing onto the rafters to help fit the roof A-frame as it was lifted by crane.

“Some things are hard, but there’s nothing we can’t do,” he said.

So far, framing is the most enjoyable part of the process for him. He likes to see the materials come together to form the shape of a building.

Gould said he also enjoys working with the other volunteers on the project, particularly Probasco, from whom he has learned a lot. “Cliff knows what he’s doing and he will take his time with me so I understand,” he said.

Gould said he didn’t know much about construction before he joined Habitat. He was more interested in academics than building things growing up in McMinnville.

An Eagle Scout, he graduated from McMinnville High School in 1986 and took some college courses. “I was a universal student, interested in everything,” he said.

Now, as then, he enjoys reading about a variety of topics, as well as fiction and science fiction.

“I’m learning as I go,” said Gould, who said  “Every part of the project is new and intriguing to me.”

There is one aspect of construction he doesn’t particularly like, though — “outside work in the winter.”

But he said, “We do it. We’re used to it, and we want this house to get done.”

Starla Pointer, who is convinced everyone has an interesting story to tell, has been writing the weekly “Stopping By” column since 1996. She’s always looking for suggestions. Contact her at 503-687-1263 or

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