Known for his dry wit, hard work and dedication to Habitat, David Leonard has volunteered close to 3,000 hours for our affiliate.
Coming from a family of educators, David was born in Berkeley, California while his dad pursued his education degree. The family then moved closer to relatives in Manitowoc with David attending Manitowoc schools and graduating from Manitowoc High School in 1968.
David then went to Lawrence University where he learned to play 27 different instruments. He majored in Music Education with an emphasis in bass, trombone and piano.
After graduation in 1972, David then spent the next 33 years as a music teacher with the Neenah School District. He taught Band, Orchestra, Jazz and Music Theory in 11 different schools to approximately 150 students a year.
Of the estimated 5,000 students David taught, he remembered Benni Westgor, Assistant Manager of the ReStore, and John Weyenberg’s wife Jenny. “They both turned out pretty well!” quipped David.
During his years of teaching, David developed an interesting family business. He raised over 100 head of sheep on 40 acres near Larsen. “It was almost full time work,” he mentioned “but it helped put two kids through college.”
“The secret of sheep is getting the lead ones to do something and the rest will follow. It’s kind of like working with our Senior Crew.”
The Larsen land has since been turned over to forest land that David spends much of his time on. He enjoys being busy and working physical tasks every day.
When it came to retirement in 2005, however, David thought he would be busy but failed to plan for how much he would miss the social aspect of his work.
“After a couple of months, the dog was really failing to laugh at my jokes” David recalled. “I guess I figured out that I might want to be around people again.”
David went to the Winnebago County Home and Garden Show looking for businesses and causes that directly helped people. He remembered talking to a guy named Bill Devine who talked him into volunteering for Greater Fox Cities Area Habitat for Habitat. He also volunteered for the Oshkosh Pantry and the Master Gardeners but our affiliate became his place to be.
While volunteering on building a Neenah home, David saw Jodi Isom handing out red caps to certain people she was calling “Senior Crew.”
“Do you have to be of a certain age to get one of those” David asked.
“Only if you’re special” Jodi replied and David joined the Senior Crew.
David has been involved with Habitat in so many ways: building, being a crew leader, working with Wally Kiefer on the logistics truck, working with Family Services on family education. David is a budget coach, part of Speakers Bureau and does the home walk through to teach new Habitat families home maintenance. He teaches the Family Education classes of Green Living, Construction Basics 101 and “Grass Class” to help our families prepare for building. During the recent Rock the Block campaign, David volunteered over 60 hours during the week driving trucks with supplies and removing yard waste. “I guess I go wherever they need me.”
David is another one of our Senior Crew who joined the Golden Hammer Society. “I would like to think I am helping Habitat in perpetuity.”
“What I really like is getting to know the homeowners. Getting to know the recipients of what we do. If you just write a check to a group, you don’t get to see the impact of what you have done. With Habitat, I see it every day.”
“I especially enjoyed a picture of a young boy posted to our Facebook page. He was running around in a circle just running in joy for finally having his own room. That really showed the joy of what we do. I feel like that all the time working with Habitat.”