A Delaware Woman Builds Homes and Hope With Habitat Global

Centreville’s Linda Collier helps construct foundations for a better future.

In a typical week, Linda Collier sells wine and spirits and teaches wine classes at her store in Centreville. When she’s not behind the counter, she’s at work with Habitat for Humanity. To date, she’s helped construct dwellings in 13 countries on five continents.

The venture began 14 years ago when Collier met a local Habitat for Humanity official while pouring wines she had donated for a fundraising event. She learned about volunteers who were building homes for underserved people around the globe.

“That night, I went home and checked Habitat Global, and I have never looked back,” Collier says. “It is the most exciting thing I have ever done in my life. I get to travel the world, meet incredible people from all over, build with people from different countries and meet the owners-to-be of the houses we are working on.”

- Advertisement -

Beginning with Argentina in 2012, Collier has also had her passport stamped in Brazil, Cambodia, Bolivia, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Nicaragua, Kenya, Chile, Thailand, Lesotho, Vietnam, Peru and Madagascar. And, barring mishap, by the time you read this, she will have added El Salvador.

It is no free “workcation,” though. For each job adventure, Collier and her volunteer colleagues are required to pay for their own transportation to and from the city located nearest the building site, as well as an additional $1,200 to $2,000 for building supplies. Food, lodging and local transportation are provided by Habitat. Each job usually has around a dozen volunteers and one volunteer supervisor. Together, they build two houses without plumbing or electricity in about five days. “I carry my steel-toed boots with me to each build,” Collier says. Her favorite place to be is up on the scaffolding laying the cinder blocks.

“These are always incredible cultural experiences,” she says, noting the team building that occurs on most trips. “Many times, some of us get together and plan an ‘after build’ before we go home. It could be a safari, mountain climbing, trekking, sailing—[anything].”

As a volunteer with Habitat for Humanity, Linda Collier, of Centreville, helps build stable housing in disenfranchised communities around the globe.
As a volunteer with Habitat for Humanity, Linda Collier, of Centreville, helps build stable housing in disenfranchised communities around the globe. Courtesy of Linda Collier.

There are sometimes unexpected adventures. “I’ve never really been scared,” Collier says, but she relates the story of an Argentine soccer match that volunteers attended one evening after the project they were building was underway. The game was a heated rivalry. “They had us in this cage-like section, and the armed guards decided to escort us out of the stadium before the match was over,” Collier recalls. “We missed the only goal scored.”

Perhaps more harrowing was working in Vietnam in early 2020. “All hell broke loose when COVID[-19] broke out, and they began canceling all flights out,” she says. “Some of the volunteers were stranded. I got the last flight out and gradually worked my way home, but I didn’t get back to the U.S. [for weeks].”

- Partner Content -

But the rewards at Habitat overshadow everything else, Collier says, remembering a 100-year-old woman in Africa who had always lived in a mud hut. “She was taking care of six kids under 12 whose parents had died of AIDS. [The house we built] was her first home that had windows and a door she could lock.”

“She was taking care of six kids under 12 whose parents had died of AIDS. [The house we built] was her first home that had windows and a door she could lock.”

Collier also has fond memories of a little girl who had quickly become attached to her—quite literally, holding on to her leg whenever she wasn’t up on the scaffolding. When her team finished the girl’s house, they moved on to a nearby house they were finishing. “She panicked when I wasn’t at her place and came through the jungle by herself to insist I go back with her to have tea with her mother,” Collier says.

She adds that there’s a lot of camaraderie among volunteers, with many opting to enlist for the same upcoming builds. “Everyone comes with a sense of adventure, and you do learn lots about each other,” she says. “It’s a group of very self-sufficient-type people, so nothing really upsets anyone.”

Related: Pursuit for Peace Brings Joy to Kids in Delaware

Our Excellence in Nursing Awards event takes place on May 9!

Our Best of Delaware Elimination Ballot is open through February 22!

Holiday flash sale ... subscribe and save 50%

Limited time offer. New subscribers only.