There’s no stopping Jan LeDuc.
Her children say, “Mother, it’s time,” but the 82-year-old won’t hear their pleas.
LeDuc could have resigned herself to a retired life of leisure, but she prefers moving furniture, caulking windows, and going Dumpster diving for parts around home sites for Habitat for Humanity. She’s volunteered for the organization since 1986, building houses for needy families in Alachua County, and doesn’t plan on stopping anytime soon.
“I’ve always tried to go the extra mile,” she said. “I needed to keep busy.”
LeDuc didn’t tire after teaching first grade for more than 30 years in the Alachua County School District. Her coworkers at Habitat know her as fiery and hardworking; she just hurries them back to their tasks.
“What you see is what you get,” she said, describing herself.
LeDuc’s first experience with the organization had her hooked. It took place through her church, when members traveled to build houses in Appalachia. She admired the program’s cause and how families received interest-free mortgages for their new houses. She returned and became active with Habitat for Humanity locally as a family partner, staying with families during the building process.
Four decades later, LeDuc continues to help local families. It’s an emotional experience that has kept her coming back.
“When the homeowner realized they are holding the keys to a house that belonged to them, you’re just there, it’s part of your life from that point on.”
LeDuc can’t labor on building sites the same way that she used to, but her age won’t slow her down from spreading Habitat for Humanity’s message. She wants others to contribute and will continue to help for as long as she can.
“That’s my difference — making the difference in their lives,” she said.
Prospective volunteers can find more information on involvement at the organization’s website, www.alachuahabitat.org.
George Pappas edited this story online.