Volunteering 3 full days a week, 50 weeks a year, 72-year old Al Wynalda is one of Habitat for Humanity of Kent County's true HEROS. Al is a retired home builder, whose skills, quiet leadership, and generous spirit have impacted hundreds of Habitat homebuyers and volunteers while helping build more than 60 Habitat homes. Al has been nominated twice for the Humana Starlight Award. On behalf of all who benefit from Al's quiet leadership, THANK YOU!
Following are excerpts from information submitted by Habitat for Al's nomination …
How does the volunteer’s work impact the organization's mission?
A good method of measuring how important Al Wynalda has been to Habitat is to imagine what we would have done without him... Without the competent, steady hand of a reliable building professional like Al, our work would have been a great deal harder. Al can be trusted to take over when things have gone wrong in another area, he can teach skill the safe and proper way and deliver the results at the end of the day. Al is the embodiment of the Habitat mission. He is a servant leader who builds in the humble style and tradition of the Christian ideal.
What activities does the nominee perform while volunteering?
Al is involved in the process of homebuilding from excavation to the final “punch list” of a completed Habitat home. Al knows it all from almost 50 years experience in construction and can handle each and every part of it. For a Habitat supervisor on a tight schedule working with a group of new volunteers without training, Al Wynalda is a gift of competence, faithfulness and calm.
When Al and his wife, Betty, planned a two week vacation Al asked for “permission” from the Habitat supervisor to take the time off. Volunteering at Habitat is a serious commitment for Al.
How have the nominee’s contributions as a volunteer made a difference in the community?
Al’s impact has been tangible and long lasting. He has worked on at least sixty Habitat houses in the three years that he has volunteered with Habitat. Those houses have improved the lives of families, provided safety and security for children and have improved the neighborhoods in which we build in the inner city.
When asked about this enormous contribution Al’s eyes mist over at the thought of his work having an effect on so many he may never meet again:
“People come up to me in the mall and say “hello” and thank me. I can’t even remember their names but it feels good to know that I helped.”
How many individuals does this volunteer’s contributions affect? What percentage are seniors?
Three days a week Al Wynalda is a role model for 6 to 15 volunteers young and old on the Habitat worksite. He serves as a volunteer builder for the families with a grandparent living in the home and the families with children who are cared for by a grandparent, approximately 10% or more of the twenty homes Habitat builds each year. Al is an example for the Habitat seniors of activity, engagement and the contribution of mind, body and spirit. Al lives in the present because that’s where the work is.
How has the nominee demonstrated exceptional leadership through volunteerism? Give specific examples.
There is a song from a Michigan musician that says it all and describes Al Wynalda, “Like a Rock.” Al is a big man, at least 6’4” without a hint of arrogance he is straightforward in his approach. He knows who he is and what needs to be done.
It is “how” Al Wynalda works that makes the difference. His leadership style is without ego and geared to the learner, whether that person is a 16 year old ear-pierced teen with big pants hiding fear behind an attitude or a nervous middle aged housewife...all receive the gift of Al’s calm presence.
Al says that his work with young people is especially satisfying. He likes to give quiet direction and then: “Watch the young person do the job.” That is the essence of leadership, to guide and allow the learner the opportunity to get comfortable doing the job. The Habitat building experience as presented by Al is changing the young men and women of the GRPS School of Construction and Design and giving them the courage that comes from improved self worth. It is easy to learn from Al. Many of the young students do not have a male role model and Al’s calm and patient direction is an important factor in their lives.