Habitat for Humanity of Owensboro-Daviess County will honor two volunteers this month at the group’s annual Banjos & Brunch fundraiser. Damon Smith, age 77, and David Wells, age 78, have been volunteering with Habitat for Humanity for a combined 30 years. In honor of their work they will be inducted into Habitat’s “Hall of Frame” during the event.
Banjos and Brunch
This year’s Banjos & Brunch fundraiser will take place Saturday, Aug. 26, from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. at Southern Star Central Gas Pipeline, 4700 Highway 56 in Owensboro. The morning will feature a southern style breakfast buffet, silent auction and bluegrass music by Chris Joslin and the Owensboro Bluegrass Band. Tickets are $50 per person or $350 for a table of eight. Tickets are available by calling the Habitat office at 270-926-6110 and will be for sale the morning of the event.
“Banjos & Brunch has become an annually anticipated event in Owensboro,” says Habitat Executive Director Virginia Braswell. “The morning provides a unique opportunity to celebrate the work of Habitat in our community as well as raise funding for the coming year.”
This year’s theme is “Creative Carpenters,” which recognizes Smith’s and Wells’ woodworking skills, which they put to good use building homes and creating unique items Habitat sells to raise money. At this year’s Banjos & Brunch, for example, swing bird feeders made by the pair will be used as table decorations and will be available for sale. Both honorees also have donated items for the silent auction. Smith donated a beautiful stain glass window he created. Wells donated a quilt, started by his wife, and finished by the Settle Memorial United Methodist Church quilting group after her death.
“Hall of Frame” Inductee Bios
Smith has served with Habitat Owensboro for 20 years. Originally from Ohio, he earned a degree in civil engineering from Trine University in Angola, Indiana. He then moved to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, to work for U.S. Steel. While there, he earned a teaching certificate from the University of Pittsburgh, and taught math at the university for three years. In 1970, Smith moved to Owensboro to join Harvey Aluminum (now Aleris) as director of environmental health and safety. While there, he worked on the federal Clean Air Act, contributing expertise on secondary aluminum processes. Following his retirement in 2003, Smith returned to school – this time earning a license to preach in the United Methodist Church from Duke University. He returned to Kentucky to pastor churches in Owensboro and Ohio County, and still fills in when area pastors need help in the pulpit. When he is not serving his community, Smith enjoys spending time with his five children and 13 grandchildren, fishing, wood working and creating stain glass art.
Wells began volunteering with Habitat Owensboro about 10 years ago when his friend and fellow honoree, Damon Smith, asked him to get involved. Wells grew up in Daviess County and worked as a truck driver for 35 years. He has survived two heart attacks and struggles with emphysema, but these challenges have not slowed him down. In addition to volunteering with Habitat, he drives the church bus for older adult day trips, builds handicap ramps for elderly in the area, and builds items as needed for Fresh Start, a recovery ministry for women in Owensboro. He also enjoys spending time with his three kids, six grandkids and 16 great grandkids! When told about the recognition, Wells said it is first award he has ever won and simply loves helping people. “We work hard and then we go fishing,” he said about himself and Smith. But even in their relaxing, the pair are helping others: they often donate their fish to area churches for fish fry fundraisers.
In addition to volunteering with Habitat, both men volunteer with their church, Settle Memorial United Methodist, and the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR), traveling to disaster areas to help residents rebuild. Smith has worked in Louisiana following Hurricane Katrina and in northern Alabama after tornadoes devastated that area. Wells has worked in Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas. This week, their attention is focused on the home front as they repair a ceiling and parsonage at Asberry United Methodist Church, a black congregation in Owensboro that sustained damage after last winter’s ice storm.
“These two volunteers give of themselves every day, said Braswell. “That is why we are so pleased to honor them as the newest members of the Habitat Hall of Frame.”