Super Senior: Habitat for Humanity’s ‘Geezer Team’

Published: Jul. 27, 2023 at 5:35 PM EDT
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COLCHESTER, Vt. (WCAX) - There’s a bit of racket happening on a normally quiet street in Colchester.

A group of volunteers with Habitat for Humanity is building a new home. “We have 10 guys here, all working hard,” said Dick Shasteen, the on-site supervisor for Green Mountain Habitat for Humanity. “These guys don’t need a supervisor, I just support them.”

A tight group with a mission to build affordable homes for low-income folks. The future owners have to put in over 200 hours of sweat equity. In return, they buy the home at half of the fair market value. It’s no surprise that there’s a waiting list.

“This is a nice way to give back to the community. Everybody says we need affordable housing, they do all sorts of studies. We actually do it, right,” Shasteen said.

The new structure is rising from the ashes. A house fire over five years ago gutted the former ranch house and was eventually torn down.

The volunteers started at 7 a.m. and will work until mid-afternoon. With an average age over 70, they’re affectionately known as “Team Geezer.”

“My oldest guy working here full-time is 85,” Shasteen said.

That would be Joe Lovering. At just over five feet, he stands tall among his friends. “And it helps other people. I’ve seen some families who have changed their lives because of it,” Lovering said.

There’s a “feel-good frenzy” in the air as these Super Seniors move about. Most of the guys, like Bill Gerlack, are former IBM’ers.

Reporter Joe Carroll: Why are you doing this?

Bill Gerlack: I’ve been lucky my whole life, I’ve never been without medical coverage, I’ve never been without pay. I feel fortunate to have the life I’ve had.

The new house will be 1,200 hundred square feet. The Habitat team has built 30 units together. “You can see, it’s pretty hard work,” Shasteen said.

Each worker knows their strengths and weaknesses.”Everyone on this team has been with us for several years,” Gerlack said.

Reporter Joe Carroll: But your group is fine the way it is.

Bill Gerlack:: Yeah, I believe so.

Reporter Joe Carroll: You having a good time?

Joe Lovering: Oh yes.

Reporter Joe Carroll: Hard work though.

Joe Lovering: Oh, fun work.

Constructing a bright future for a Vermont family, it’s fair to say the Geezers’ have nailed it.