For many years, Mike Hale of River Oaks, Texas, witnessed his father-in-law volunteer as a chainsaw operator for TBM Disaster Relief. Inspired by his example, Hale signed up to volunteer with TBM Camp Builders, but his commitment came with reluctance.
“Before I went on my first trip two years ago, I was very hesitant,” said Hale, who retired from a wood floor distribution business. “I felt unqualified. My past experience has always been in business.”
Hale’s hesitancy quickly subsided as he found an important role on the team that he could master – a builder helper.
“The guys are just absolutely fabulous to work with,” Hale said. “There are going to be a lot of experienced people, but what they need more of is people who can help them.”
As a helper, Hale will often follow instructions given by the team members who have more construction experience. Under their guidance, he can participate in a wide variety of projects including painting, sheetrock work, flooring installation, caulking, deck building, etc.
In the summer of 2021, doctors informed Hale that he has Parkinson’s disease, a progressive condition that affects the nervous system. The diagnosis turned into another driving force for Hale to continue his volunteer work.
“One of the things medical personnel told me was that I need to stay active,” he said. “Being a Camp Builder has been good for my health and my strength. … Not that it’s a cure, but it gives me opportunities to keep my strength up.”
Unlike many of his Builders companions, Hale does not travel with an RV but says he has no trouble finding a comfortable place to stay.
“The camps are very good about accommodating volunteers to come in that don’t have a place to stay,” he explained. Hale typically stays at the campsite during the week, then goes home on weekends.
To people who are considering volunteering with TBM Builders but are reluctant, Hale says, “Just give it a try and see if you like it. Pick up the phone and call. Stay with us one day. You really don’t know if you’ll like it until you try it.”
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.