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Inspired by Jimmy Carter, former judge continues to serve

Every Monday and Wednesday, Mike Cavel arrives at the Habitat for Humanity of Omaha office ready to work on any projects he’s given throughout the day.

As an administrative volunteer, Mike says he does “a little bit of everything.” He might help with mailings in the morning and then data entry in the afternoon. He’s never sure what he will be working on that day.

“Mike is always willing to jump in and help wherever needed,” said Aly Eveland, office manager at Habitat Omaha. “From working out on the construction site to proofreading our policy manuals, he has been an important addition to Habitat Omaha.”

Mike was a judge on the Nebraska Workers’ Compensation Court for 20 years. Prior to receiving his law degree from Creighton University, he served in the United States Army for three years.

Mike had been retired for six years when he decided to search for volunteer opportunities. Inspired by former President Jimmy Carter’s work with Habitat, Mike picked up his phone and called our office.

“After retirement, I wanted to contribute in some way to the betterment of the community and this was the organization,” Mike said.

He started volunteering at our office in 2017. That same year, Habitat Omaha recognized Mike as a dedicated volunteer and presented him with an award. Since then, he has worked on many projects including helping staff edit the employee handbook and multiple manuals.

“When I was a judge I had to write many reports so I can help with content, spelling, grammar and punctuation,” Mike said.

The following year, Mike’s wife, Jo, also began to regularly volunteer with Habitat Omaha. She joined the Women Build crew and helped renovate homes. In 2019, she decided to volunteer in the office.

“I enjoyed working on the Women Build homes,” Jo said. “After hearing about some of the work Mike was doing in the office, I thought it would be something I’d enjoy.”

Mike has spent more than 500 hours volunteering with Habitat Omaha. The people are what keep him coming back every week.

“I really like the people,” Mike said. “They’re altruistic, wanting to genuinely help others. It’s nice to work with people like that.”

*Due to COVID-19 we are not currently accepting volunteers. Mike and Jo are looking forward to getting back to the office and helping staff as soon as it’s safe to do so.