Member Spotlight: Nathan Johnson

Portrait_Dwayne BennettNathan Johnson, Wheelchair Ramp Program Manager, project:HOMES

Q: Three things you want folks to know about you.

  1. I have worked for non-profits in the Richmond area, either as a long-term volunteer/intern or as an employee, for over six years.
  2. I am an ardent supporter of live theatre, and was employed as a professional actor for most of my high school career.
  3. My educational background is in eastern religious philosophy, but my passion lies in working with my hands, getting dirty, and building a tangible future for the most underserved populations both at home and abroad.

Q: Three things you want folks to know about your work.

  1. project:HOMES serves, on average, over 1,000 low-income homeowners and families each year by providing critical home repairs, accessibility modifications, weatherization, energy conservation, and affordable new home construction.
  2. We have four major departments: Weatherization, Home Rehabilitation, Neighborhood Revitalization, and the Renew Crew, our volunteer arm. The Renew Crew proudly works with over 2,000 individual volunteers annually to provide minor home repairs and wheelchair ramps.
  3. The Wheelchair Ramp Program builds in excess of 100 wheelchair ramps every year in the central Virginia area. Our service area encompasses counties as far south as Dinwiddie, Southampton, and Prince George, and as far north as Hanover and Louisa. Each ramp is constructed using only volunteer labor, and is built to A.D.A specifications.

Q: Why do you love the profession of volunteer administration?

I personally love the field of volunteer administration because I get to witness and facilitate, on a daily basis, the interaction between the volunteer and the client they are serving. The clients that we serve are often very elderly and often don’t have the means, nor anyone to help them, to make the modifications necessary for their home environment to be deemed safe, or even livable in some cases. These people are so touched that complete strangers would take time out of their workday or weekend to bring them safety, security, and, in more cases than not, their independence back. I have had more volunteers than I can count approach me after an in-home workday, telling me how much their eyes have been opened to the struggle of those less fortunate than themselves, and in the short time that we are at these homes, our volunteers often develop close, if brief, relationships with the clients they are serving.

I find it a great honor to be the one who is able to make these connections happen. It’s very impactful for me to see that the job I hold brings together communities that would never have engaged previously, and together we produce a product and a service that is sorely needed, and restores not just homes, but peoples’ safety and personal freedom as well.

Q: What are most looking forward to with GRAVA?

I hope to gain from GRAVA a deeper insight into what it means to be a volunteer administrator. I am brand new to this field, and I am eager to learn the strategies and structures that others far more experienced than myself have found for boosting recruitment of new volunteers, and improving the quality of the volunteer experience for those who volunteer with us already. I could not do the work I do without the very giving individuals who donate their time to our organization. I find it incumbent upon myself, then, to provide the highest quality volunteerism experience I can, so that these individuals feel their time was utilized in a fulfilling, meaningful, and productive manner. I am hoping GRAVA can provide me with the insight, tools, and connections needed to make this possible.

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