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‘The Faithful Few’: Group of volunteer retirees build camaraderie while building homes

By Joy Bonala

Every Thursday morning, 85-year-old Ned Shows can be found surrounded by his friends at the site of a Dorchester Habitat for Humanity home. This past week, as he got to work on a house on Lake Drive in Summerville, other volunteers busied themselves with different tasks: two men laid shingles above him, a woman measured siding nearby him and another person installed a door.

Together, they raise the walls.

Shows is part of a special retiree group known as the “Faithful Few.” They earned the name because of their loyal service to Dorchester Habitat. During his time with the dedicated group, Shows has helped to build more than 20 homes.

“I knew nothing about building houses until we started with this,” he said. “I feel good about seeing the houses completed — one after another, after another.”

The work keeps him healthy and active, and he enjoys the fellowship with with other volunteers; but more than anything, Shows said he marvels at the amount of work the team can complete.

“I’m constantly amazed at what a group of volunteers can do with good leadership,” he said.

Shows credited the group’s success to Bob Barnett, the nonprofit’s construction supervisor, who revealed just how “faithful” the few have been — many of the members volunteering for decades. Most retirees, they find the work relaxing but fun.

“What keeps them coming back is the camaraderie,” Barnett said. “And they meet a lot of friends on the job too.”

Moriah Hollander, marketing and development director for Dorchester Habitat, agreed.

“At the core of it, it’s just a big group of friends,” she said.

Volunteer Kathy DeWaell was modest when she described her contributions to the team. A volunteer for eight years, DeWaell admitted she has learned about building, but more importantly she said she’s learned “character stuff” from her fellow volunteers.

Charles Peacock is likely the most senior volunteer with the group. At 86, the retired pharmacist can be heard cracking jokes while he works. The group said his positive attitude and light, happy mood is contagious, permeating the job site.

“He’s just the most humble guy,” Hollander said. “He just shows up, builds and then quietly leaves. He has the biggest servant heart.”

Hollander said Peacock is known for his willingness to coach new members of the Faithful Few.

“He would drop anything to help you,” she said.

Dorchester Habitat is fortunate to have the Faithful Few, according to Hollander, unaware of any other similar type group that works with a Habitat affiliate. Of the approximately 2,000 hours it takes to construct each Habitat home, she estimated that the group’s completed at least half of those hours.

“They are basically our biggest volunteer asset for Dorchester Habitat,” Hollander said.

Dorchester Habitat is currently heading two homes projects on Lake Drive.

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