Building up the community

Laboratory volunteers help two regional nonprofits on construction projects

By David Moore | July 18, 2023

Ramp Project Sm
Volunteers (including Hyrum Hansen, left) working on the ramp at the house near Pojoaque.

Many Laboratory employees are proud that their day job is in the service of the nation, but they are also keen to serve the Northern New Mexico region with their skills and time.

So Kayla Norris of the Community Partnerships Office had no trouble finding 18 volunteers for two recent Laboratory-organized community service days in June to install a ramp at a house just south of Pojoaque and work on a Habitat for Humanity build in Santa Fe.

With guidance from Greg Hallstrom of the nonprofit New Mexico Ramp Project, five volunteers (including three who worked on a similar build last year) spent a full day building the new ramp for an 86-year-old man with mobility issues which made it very hard for him to get in and out of his house.

The grateful homeowners provided lunch, drinks, snacks and ice cream for the hard-working Laboratory volunteers, including Hyrum Hansen, a master’s student in statistics working at LANL over the summer.

“I’ve been involved with volunteer organizations my whole life, so finding a group to volunteer with in Los Alamos was natural,” Hansen says. “Volunteer work is important to me because as volunteers, we provide critical services to people whose needs would otherwise be unfulfilled.”

The vision of the New Mexico Ramp Project is that no New Mexico residents should lack safe access to their homes because of financial limitations, and they install ramps for free across Northern New Mexico.

Beanie the dog at the bike shop that bears his name
Lab volunteers at the Habitat for Humanity build.

Meanwhile at the Habitat for Humanity build near Christus St Vincent hospital in Santa Fe 13 volunteers put up drywall on interior walls and taped joins in preparation for mudding. The affordable home, which is an adobe brick construction, is earmarked for a Santa Fe family facing difficulties with their current housing situation.

“I wanted to learn things that my desk job wouldn't teach me,” says volunteer Will Rosenberger. “Habitat is a fantastic opportunity to get outside and work with your hands on something that will change someone's life.

“The people at Santa Fe Habitat for Humanity are fantastic: the construction leads and AmeriCorps members are excellent teachers, the regular volunteers bring decades of construction experience with them, and it's a great way to meet mission-focused people who care about their community.”