Washougal man hopes to build partnerships through Habitat for Humanity

Dave Gray is Habitat for Humanity faith relations coordinator

A local man with experience in construction and ministry is using both sets of skills in his new position.

Dave Gray, of Washougal, is the faith relations coordinator for Evergreen Habitat for Humanity.

“I talk to area churches and let them know about Habitat,” he said. “I see if there is a way to partner with them, to empower their groups – men, women and children – to help the community.”

Gray’s responsibilities include building partnerships with local individuals.

He also sometimes helps build Habitat homes.

“A typical day involves talking to a lot of people, working on programs and a little bit of everything,” Gray said. “It could be swinging a hammer, to talking to someone at a civic organization in a suit to talking to a group of pastors.”

There are currently two homes being built in the Orchards area of Vancouver.

Gray, 47, said Habitat is looking for people to donate land that can be built on.

“We’re helping people get up from poverty – giving them a hand up instead of a hand out,” he said. “Everybody deserves to live in safe, sustainable and decent housing.

“A kid that is going home to a house in major disrepair – with water leaking and no heat – they’re not going to have much pride in their house, and it is hard to study there,” Gray added. “It’s a major impact. You feel better about yourself when you go home to a safe, decent house. Self esteem rises, and pride builds. You take more initiative to work on what you are working on.”

Evergreen Habitat is an affiliate of Habitat for Humanity International.

In addition to building houses, Evergreen Habitat has a new program “A Brush with Kindness,” which involves renovations and repairs in Clark County.

“It can include painting, small yard work, very light minor renovation and exterior repairs for low income levels, seniors and individuals with disabilities – people who are really struggling in the poverty level,” Gray said. “We can do something to get things up to shape and restore pride in their homes and retain valuable housing stock that is already there.”

Gray started working for Habitat in August. His previous experiences have included serving as the building and properties maintenance manager for Seaport Maintenance, of Kent, Wash. Gray has worked as a construction project manager and a volunteer chaplain for the Florida Department of Corrections.

He is a former director of Jim Russo Ministries – a faith-based drug and alcohol rehabilitation program in Florida.

“With the construction background and the ministry background, that made Habitat a good fit,” Gray said.

He, his wife Barbara and their children moved from Florida to Washougal four years ago. Of their seven children, two are adopted.

For more information about Evergreen Habitat for Humanity, contact Gray at 737-1759 or dave@ehfh.org or visit www.ehfh.org.

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