He had selfish motives, Tom Gleason admits now, when he first volunteered to work for Habitat for Humanity, the organization that shows folks how to build homes for themselves.
Gleason, 55, wants to build a log cabin after he retires from the U.S. Postal Service and thought the Habitat project he read about in Pacoima would be a good place to learn the ins and outs of construction.
That was two years ago. He's still volunteering but now works as much for others as for himself. "Tom's put in tenfold what any other worker has on this project," says Bryan Bossard, construction superintendent for the Habitat chapter of the San Fernando/Santa Clarita Valleys.
Gleason's satisfaction with the Habitat experience is obvious. Families put in at least 500 hours of "sweat equity" into the homes that will become theirs. "It's an impossible dream for these families (to own a home) and it's heartwarming to be able to help someone like this," says Gleason.
Habitat for Humanity was founded in 1976. The purpose is to provide housing for low-income people, not through handouts, but through the work of the people themselves and volunteers such as Gleason.
The Pacoima project features eight units for eight families, and an 11-unit Mission Hills project is in the planning stages.