Core Volunteer Profile: Mai Dinh

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Mai Dinh reignited an old passion through building homes with NOAHH.

For the past 11 years, Mai has run a family-owned gas station, alongside her brother and sisters in Gretna, Louisiana, called Star Convenience. While this business supports her and her family, it does not fulfill all of her needs. Nevertheless, Mai found another job opportunity that would fulfill more of what she wants.

Mai began volunteering with NOAHH in January 2016. She only has four days off a month, and dedicates two of them to building homes. While working at NOAHH for half of her days off may sound like a sizable commitment to some people, Mai does not mind. She loves the work.

“You find a job you like; you never have to work again,” Mai said.

Mai looks at NOAHH as a fun, social event more than anything else. She often gets lunch with other core volunteers. Core volunteers must commit to volunteering at least two days a month with NOAHH. She also said that she has become quite skilled at constructing porches.

Mai, however, is not satisfied working construction two days a week. She wants to make construction her career. Mai looks to leave her current job and begin this career in the coming months. In order to do this, Mai needed more business knowledge and construction experience.

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Before volunteering at NOAHH, Mai enrolled a program which teaches small business owners how to manage their companies. Mai said that it is like a mini Masters of Business Administration program and runs over 11 weeks. She intends to use what she learned from this program to manage her future business.

On the other end of the spectrum, Mai hopes to gain a contractor’s license and learn more about construction work through NOAHH.

Whenever Mai meets a core volunteer with years of experience, she listens to what they say so she can learn through all of their experience. She also will begin construction on her own home, knowing that she can learn more about construction from that experience. Mai intends to put a lot of work in to achieve her goals.

“I want to do something more fulfilling in life than work, work, work,” she said.

Mai said her future career will focus on exporting construction materials and homes. She would eventually like to set up a program or affiliate like Habitat for Humanity in another country.

At the end of the day, Mai knows where her passion for construction truly began to blossom and wants to give back to Habitat for Humanity later on in life.

“No matter how far life takes me, I will still dedicate time to Habitat,” Mai said.