Home is where Habitat is: Here’s one volunteer’s story engaging with the organization around the globe

Wherever Alex Ragland is in the world, no matter the country or time zone, he knows he can find comfort and community with Habitat for Humanity.  

It all started when he was in college. Alex found his school’s branch of Habitat while attending Austin College in Texas. He was already keeping busy with his fraternity and part-time jobs, but he was also hoping to find ways to further connect with his community and create a positive impact.  

He started out as the communications chair for the branch at his small liberal arts college and quickly made his way up to president. While in that leadership role, he tripled engagement and turned a 20-person club into a regular volunteer opportunity for a couple hundred students. During his undergraduate, he even joined the board of directors with Northeast Texas Habitat, where he brought his army of college-aged volunteers to builds and construction events.  

“It seemed like a really fun way to learn something new, to do something other than what the typical college student would do those four years,” Alex said. “It was really rewarding.” 

Life took him to Shanghai in 2011, where he attended a graduate program and once again became involved with Habitat. The local branch needed help finding ways to raise money and connect with the community in a meaningful way. So, Alex did an internship with the organization and reached out to other countries to find out what they were doing that he might be able to bring to Shanghai.  

He then moved to Singapore and followed a similar path there. He volunteered on construction sites and helped out however he could.  

“It’s very different from the U.S.,” Alex said. “Here it’s very hands-on, building houses from the ground up. In cities where it’s more urban, there’s not a lot of land, so it’s mostly improving homes for the elderly.” 

A lot of the home repair work in China included installing grab bars in bathrooms, decluttering homes, and coming up with ways to make the homes safer for elderly inhabitants.  

In China, he added, most of the organization’s funding and volunteer engagement comes from global builds.  

Alex returned to the United States this year, and in June, after settling into his new home and job, he became involved with Habitat Portland Region. He volunteered at Habitat’s Foster Commons build site and helped out with the Hard Hat Black Tie Benefit in October.   

Alex Ragland volunteers with Habitat however he can, whether it be on a build site, at a ReStore, or at an event.

He is also a member of the Ambassador Council, Habitat Portland’s young professionals’ group. The council supports Habitat’s mission through volunteering, advocacy, fundraising, and engaging their networks to provide affordable housing throughout the region. 

“I’m just trying to help out where I can and try to see where I can make the most impact,” he said.  

Professionally, Alex works in construction project management, finding it “purely coincidental” that his life somehow revolves around construction.

Having learned the ropes of several Habitat branches around the world, Alex said he likes how positive, organized and goal-oriented the folks at Habitat Portland are.  

 “I look forward to getting more and more involved.”  

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