Volunteer Profile: Number cruncher builds houses

When you think of volunteers at Habitat for Humanity, you likely picture them sporting hardhats and hammers. But longtime Lendrum MB Church member Don Neufeld was honoured by four Alberta agencies for using his accounting skills in service of Habitat for Humanity Edmonton.

The chartered accountant, who spent his career in the office of the auditor general of Alberta, has been involved in Habitat for Humanity Edmonton since it was founded by fellow Lendrum member Dave Hubert in 1991. Initially, he contributed financially and did some work on building projects. In 1997, he joined the board of directors, and when his term expiry coincided with retirement 2 years later, he began to volunteer as accountant, taking care of all financial records, banking, taxation issues, and financial reporting.

By fall 2009, Neufeld had logged some 12,000 volunteer hours, and Habitat officials estimate he has saved the organization more than $750,000 in wages and professional fees. And his contribution was not just in finance – he managed the IT system during this period as well.

“Don is a very quiet, unassuming man,” wrote Habitat president and CEO Alfred Nikolai in a letter of support for Neufeld’s nomination for the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Alberta’s 2009 distinguished service award, which he received last summer. Habitat named him outstanding volunteer in 2008, and to further recognize his contribution, established a “Don Neufeld Outstanding Volunteer Award” to acknowledge other generous volunteers.

In 2008, the Edmonton Housing Trust Fund and Edmonton Joint Planning Committee on Housing awarded Neufeld for exceptional volunteerism in the housing sector, and the Rotary Clubs of the Capital Region recognized him with their Integrity Award.

“I believe that a person’s mental and physical health is promoted by being active in useful, enjoyable work,” says the grandfather of six and avid motorcyclist with his wife Kae. “I am deeply committed to the mission of eliminating poverty housing and am happy that I can make a small contribution.”

— Karla Braun

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