As a second-generation Builder, becoming a volunteer after retirement was a no-brainer for Cabinet Builders’ coordinator Ralph Stephenson. In fact, he took an early retirement in 2005 to pursue the unique calling on his life with TBM in 2007.
“After seeing how much joy (volunteering as Builders) gave my mom, dad, aunt and uncle, it is just something that I felt called into doing,” Ralph explained. “It was a natural transition for me. I retired at 52 because I wanted to go out and make my life count for more.”
In 2011, he accepted the role of coordinator. His wife, Nancy, joined him in 2014 after retiring from her job as an accountant.
Since then, the couple has worked side-by-side leading the team of dedicated volunteers who tackle carpentry projects for various churches, camps and ministries. While they most often build cabinets, Cabinet Builders also construct doors, shelving, benches and much more.
While Nancy’s physical capabilities are limited due to a mild case of rheumatoid arthritis, she finds great purpose in helping keep her husband and the other builders organized.
“Mostly she helps me keep my head from exploding,” Ralph joked, adding that one of the most valuable things Nancy does is providing design input from a female’s perspective. She also often marks and organizes the materials making it easier for the assemblers to piece the cabinets together.
Off the jobsite, Nancy crochets whatever might be useful in an upcoming project, such as hot pads for the kitchens or scarves for the church members. Ralph spends much of his time drafting plans, a skill he acquired in his career as a civil engineer.
“My job gave me a background in the drafting room, helping me be able to read and understand the blueprints for buildings and develop drawings we need,” he explained. “But I really wasn’t a cabinet builder when I first started; experienced volunteers trained me.”
Cabinet Builders projects can vary in location, Ralph said, but many builds start in the TBM workshop – a convenient location for Dallas-area builders.
“We could always use more volunteers,” Ralph said. He tells potential volunteers, “Don’t let your shortcomings or lack of experience stand in the way. There are plenty of people to help you along.”
Nancy agreed, saying, “You’ll enjoy it, and God will use you if you make yourself available.”
When they aren’t working on a cabinet project, the Stephensons are often found volunteering with Currey Creek Church in Boerne.
TBM Builders ministries – including Church, Camp and Cabinet Builders – empower churches, camps and other ministries to accomplish their God-given visions of expanding the kingdom of God. Click here to learn more about opportunities to volunteer with TBM Builders.