Submitted photo##Doug Cruikshank (kneeling in front center) poses with other members of Habitat for Humanity’s Veterans Build crew and new homeowners Ed and Elizabeth Floyd (hugging toward right). Ed is a veteran of the U.S. Army.
Submitted photo##Doug Cruikshank (kneeling in front center) poses with other members of Habitat for Humanity’s Veterans Build crew and new homeowners Ed and Elizabeth Floyd (hugging toward right). Ed is a veteran of the U.S. Army.

Doug Cruikshank: Reflections of a Habitat for Humanity volunteer

After more than 17 years helping build houses for McMinnville Habitat for Humanity, I’ve decided it’s time for me to hang up my tools.

I wish to preface my personal reflections of my years with Habitat by recognizing the many, many volunteers who provide countless hours of valuable assistance to Yamhill County nonprofits, girls’ and boys’ organizations, sports programs, churches, schools, breakfast and supper programs, service clubs and similar causes.

I salute them. I am proud to be a part of people serving others.

My personal cause, Habitat for Humanity, dates from the mid-1970s. Aided by a boost from former President Jimmy Carter, it has spread to 70 countries and blessed more than 13 million deserving people with improved living conditions.

My involvement began much later, in 2001. While I respected the Habitat work of Carter, it was my brother, Steve, who nudged me into giving building a try.

Steve’s Habitat work in the San Francisco Bay Area had inspired him. So, I decided to sign on myself.

I was assigned to a house project on Taft Street under the leadership of Baptist minister Bernie Turner, father of the McMinnville Habitat for Humanity program.
I didn’t know anything about homebuilding.

Bernie got me started, directing me my very first task — cutting and bending rebar for a foundation. I made it through that first build, and developed some rudimentary skills along the way.

Later, I met Cliff Probasco. From then on, almost all I learned about building originated from him.

He was careful in his work. He was fussy about doing things right.

Walls and floors needed to be plumb and level. If something was incorrect, we took it apart and rebuilt it.

Guest Writer

Doug Cruikshank is a retired professor of education who specialized in the teaching of math at the elementary and middle school levels. He retired after 10 years at Temple University and 23 at Linfield College. Ever since, he has spent three days a week building houses for McMinnville Habitat for Humanity on a volunteer basis. He and his wife, Linda, enjoy music, traveling, golf, fishing and spending time with their four grandchildren.

Best of all, Cliff was a patient teacher. After a while, I began to think like him and develop characteristics like him. Gradually, I became confident in my ability.

Some mornings, Cliff would say, “I got to thinking.” And I knew an alteration was in the works or a new technique was forthcoming.

He usually did his thinking in the wee hours of the morning. Soon, I began waking and musing about a building solution in the minutes before I arose in the dark to start the day.

I’ve been building for a while now. Why?

Building decent and affordable houses for families living in sub-par conditions brings a smile to my face and contentment to my heart. It’s really that simple.

The personal and emotional attachment I have to serving others in our community emerges from events as I grew up. My parents served in various volunteer projects, usually with Scouting or school initially, and later in community organizations in Eugene.

As an Eagle Scout, I was challenged to give back to Scouting, through service, some of the advantages and opportunities it had provided me. I took that to heart, first with Scouting and later with the community. I committed myself, through service, to create advantages and opportunities for others.

The past 17 years have enriched me. I came to greatly appreciate the dedication and camaraderie of my fellow builders. In the process, endearing friendships blossomed.

One volunteer cannot succeed without being surrounded and supported by many others.

My early comrades — Al, Cliff, Howie, Janet, Jim and Steve — have been joined by Kurt, Gerry, Wanda, Jim, Kent, Jodi and Dave. K.B., a member of the office staff, serves as construction manager on all our projects.

We are always looking for additional help. We welcome newcomers, even if they have no construction experience at all.

Groups from the community have volunteered at various times. McMinnville High School and Linfield College students have pitched in, as well as local businesses, churches and service clubs.

How interesting these connections have been.

We have also received financial support from individuals and businesses, which is necessary to build houses. Special recognition goes to Washington Roofing for supplying roofs for all 59 houses we have built to date.

We have also enjoyed the Bob Payne Build, Jon Triest Build, Veterans’ Build, Women’s Builds and, most recently, a Platypus Build uniting Ducks and Beavers.  That kind of local community engagement has been a highlight for me.

The Habitat office staff is headed by Executive Director Mary Stern. She keeps the organization on track day by day.

The board of directors provides leadership and direction in meeting the Habitat mission. The ReStore serves as a resource for materials, tools, appliances and furnishings, and its income supports Habitat goals.

Behind the scenes, committees focus on a variety of needs. And various individuals provide something very important to those of us on the jobsite — snacks each day we work.

As I step back from this rewarding adventure, I hope that, along the way, I have provided a modicum of moral leadership.

Lindsay Walker, a former Linfield student now teaching third grade at Edy Ridge Elementary School in Sherwood, was recently recognized as Linfield’s 2018 Distinguished Alumna. At the recognition ceremony, she spoke of “moral leadership,” which she characterized as aiming to serve, developing the capacities of others, exhibiting a sense of ethics, and embracing selflessness, giving and compassion.

I hope my trail of work has incorporated some of these traits. I very much want to inspire others.

In this season of Thanksgiving, I am especially appreciative of what volunteering has meant to me. My wife, Linda, a fellow Habitat volunteer, joins me in expressing to Habitat for Humanity, in Shakespeare’s words from Twelfth Night, “I can no other answer make but thanks, and thanks; and ever thanks.”
What a wonderful opportunity.



And MacHabitat can never adequately express our thanks to Doug for his 17 years of dedication to helping others - Habitat families, volunteers, and staff. We are a better organization and McMinnville is a better community because of him! Thank you, Doug! You are welcome back any time you get bored in retirement!

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