Traveling the Globe to Help Others

Katie Keil, marketing manager for Clorox® Liquid Bleach, was interviewed for this post.

What is your volunteer work? I really enjoy construction projects. I have done several disaster relief trips (after the tsunami in Thailand and the earthquake in Haiti, for example) and have enjoyed being part of the community and making a tangible difference in people’s lives.

In March, I spent two weeks building houses in a village in India with Habitat for Humanity. We built three houses in eight working days. It was so amazing to see the progress our team made in such a short period of time. In many parts of the world, volunteering to build houses or do construction work helps dignify the labor, as many people have a preconceived notion that doing this kind of work is only for the lowest individuals.

Katie Keil, volunteering for Habitat for Humanity.

Clorox employee Katie Keil, volunteering for Habitat for Humanity.

What inspired you to donate your time to this cause? I don’t actually remember how I got started. I spent a year working with college students (in 2005 and 2006), which is the first time I led a trip to do construction relief work. I loved it so much that I led two other teams, and then I joined a team for Haiti and India.

Does anyone join you on your projects? I always try to rope a friend or family member into coming, but it can be challenging to convince people to use vacation time to do volunteer work. I actually find it to be one of the best vacations, because it’s the total opposite of my day job. It’s so refreshing to be outside all day and to do the physical labor.

Does your volunteer project involve other Clorox folks? Not yet, but I’m hoping it will soon!

What’s fun about doing this volunteer work? One of the awesome things about joining a Habitat team are the relationships you form with other team members. You start as total strangers, but really get to know one another as you spend time talking on the worksite and over meals. People have such interesting stories to share and are generally very open. Additionally, it’s fun to try to learn the local language so that you can communicate a bit with the locals. It’s a challenge, but as long as you are willing to laugh at yourself as you stumble through speaking, the locals really appreciate the effort.

What has surprised you while doing this volunteer work? I am always surprised at how much fun I have doing the work!

What are your plans for the future? I have two dates scheduled with the local San Francisco chapter to help with some housing needs in East Palo Alto, California, and the Bayview (district of San Francisco). I can’t wait to go on another Habitat International trip. I just have to figure out where to go and save up some vacation days!