Volunteer Spotlight

Volunteer Spotlight: John Stoffregen

March 5, 2019--He’s soft-spoken and steady, with paper white hair and a knowing smile. Clad in bulky knee pads and a leather tool belt, John Stoffregen works diligently, building Habitat homes alongside a group of core construction volunteers. At 80 years old, he is the eldest volunteer of the bunch.

Up until recently, he was still climbing ladders and helping with roofing. Per his wife’s request, his ladder-climbing days are over, but he’s still a regular on the job site. In the past 10 years, he’s helped build more than a dozen homes for North Willamette Valley Habitat for Humanity.

“I feel that it’s doing some good for people who really need housing,” Stoffregen said. “The conditions that some of these people are coming from are just deplorable. This gives them a good start to owning a piece of property completely.”

Fellow construction volunteers call him the “watch maker” because of his attention to detail.

“He’ll cut a piece of trim five times just to get it right,” said Tom Mason, a former construction manager who has known John for nearly a decade.  “He takes his work very seriously. He believes every home is important and every aspect of the home should be the best we can make it.”

Stoffregen is a skilled carpenter, but no job is too small for him. When there is a lull in activity or too many volunteers on a certain job, he’s the one that picks up the broom and dustpan and cleans up the site.

 “I hope he has many years of building ahead of him,” Mason said.

Construction volunteer Carl Menkel said he’s always upbeat, brings loads of tools with him and is ready for any task.

Stoffregen plans to keep volunteering as long as he possibly can.

“As long as I have no pain, it’s no problem,” he said. “I have a shoulder that flares up every now and then, but other than that I’m fine.”

He attributes his health and fitness to a combination of things.

“I keep doing things,” he said. “I don’t sit around. I bicycle. I do a lot of things around the house. I like traveling and vacationing. My doctor says I’ll probably live a long time.”

Part of what keeps him coming back year after year, build after build, are the crew members he works with, many of whom are in their late 70s.

 “In my opinion, we have one of the best crews around because everyone is self-sufficient,” he said.