Habitat volunteer recognized nationally

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Bill Cooke, longtime volunteer with the local Habitat for Humanity affiliate, is one of two volunteers in the nation to win Volunteer of the Year through Habitat for Humanity International. Since 1997, Cooke has served in many capacities with the affiliate from board member and treasurer to bookkeeper and financial advisor. He was instrumental in developing and implementing policies and procedures in habitat’s finance department, which enabled the organization to run much more effectively, efficiently and with much better controls.

Cooke, along with other habitat staff collaborated with the St. Johns Housing Partnership, Council on Aging and St. Johns County Housing and Community Services in 2003 to develop housing programs for the elderly and disabled within our community. He had seen first-hand the elderly and disabled living in horrible conditions in the St. Augustine community and was instrumental in developing the program to tear down the shacks and build new homes on the homeowner’s property.

The affiliate won the Clarence Jordan Award through Habitat International that year for its creativity and innovation in developing the Elderly and Disabled Program.

Shortly thereafter, Cooke spearheaded Habitat’s 21st Century Challenge Initiative assessing the condition of homes in disrepair in the West Augustine area and recruiting 20 to 30 volunteers to perform windshield drive-by surveys for identification of occupied, non-inhabitable homes.

Also that year, Cooke involved his church, Grace United Methodist, to raise the funds to sponsor a habitat home financially and the United Methodist Women were involved in providing furnishings for habitat homes for the elderly and disabled in the St. Johns County community.

In recent years, Cooke has served as land acquisition coordinator and land development support volunteer, designing and implementing landscaping projects. Last fall he was involved in the affiliate’s initiation of its Lift Up Lincolnville home renovation efforts.


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