Habitat volunteer spotlight

Volunteer Spotlight: Carl Menkel

Jan. 6, 2020

Wearing a classic straw hat and a smile, Carl Menkel is a familiar face at the construction site. He’s part of a core group of faithful volunteers at North Willamette Valley Habitat for Humanity who make each build possible.

Carl has been at it longer than anyone else on that team. He’s been building Habitat homes in our community for more than 15 years. He is among the most knowledgeable construction volunteers, yet he maintains a humble approach, always eager to learn new skills and to help others along the way.

“Carl is a man of many talents, but his expertise has to be going places no other volunteer wants to,” Construction Manager Ben Wilt said. “From attic to crawlspace, he's the first to offer his service.”

In 2004, Carl and his wife, Barb, joined the Family Selection Committee of the Canby Habitat chapter (before it merged with Mt. Angel to form the North Willamette Valley affiliate). He also served as a board member for eight years and traveled overseas for an international Habitat build in Cambodia. He is now an active construction volunteer locally and serves as chairman of the NWV Habitat Construction Safety Committee.

Prior to retirement, Carl worked in Information Technology, including 21 years at Nike. That’s when he had his first construction volunteer opportunity. Nike asked for volunteers to spend a day in Vernonia cleaning up after the flood of 1996.

“I spent hours under houses tearing down soggy insulation and hauling it out,” he said. “Felt good to give those people a hand.”

Giving back remains a priority for Carl and his wife.

“We have had a good life with all of our needs covered and our children are successful,” he said.  “As we planned for retirement, giving back was an important part of it.  If we can make a difference by helping others achieve a portion of what we experienced that is why we do it.”

Part of what keeps him coming back year after year are the relationships he’s formed with fellow construction volunteers and the opportunity to learn skills that weren’t part of his career prior to retirement. But the best part, in his opinion, is “seeing the joy of the partner families when they receive their key and working with them as they work off their sweat equity.”