Gary Fitschen likes to keep a full plate. He delves in to his projects and interests with enthusiasm, and it’s a lucky thing for us, too, because one of those passions is affordable housing.
As one of our newest Board members, Gary brings with him a background in architecture and experience in construction. He sees Habitat East Bay/Silicon Valley as a way to put his skills and expertise into forward action against the housing crisis.
“I have known about Habitat for Humanity for many years,” Gary says, “and I have admired the work this wonderful organization has done. It is an honor for me to be on this Board.” He hopes that through his Board service, he will “make a significant contribution.”
Housing has been an interest for Gary since architecture school, where he saw that “the home is more than a place to hang one’s hat. It is the most basic environmental need we have as humans.” To Gary, a decent place to live is a fundamental necessity, one that he wants to help people gain access to, so that they are able to pursue the fulfillment of their social, emotional, and spiritual needs.
Though his term on our Board has just begun, Gary has wasted no time in getting involved, jumping right in the saddle – of his bicycle. Gary was one of our earliest riders to register for Cycle of Hope, the premier benefit ride we’re hosting this November 3rd. He’s committed not only to ride the full Century – a hundred miles through the South Bay – but also to raising support; Gary is leading the pack on fundraising. “I see this as another opportunity to do something I enjoy on a regular basis, cycling,” Gary says, “and to spread the word about Habitat.”
“I’m very excited about the ride, and helping in this small way,” he says.
When he’s not pedaling for affordable housing, Gary spends plenty of his free time on the bike, too. He also swims – his masters swim team is the Manatee Aquatic Masters, and fittingly, he’s named his Cycle of Hope team The Cycling Sea Cows – and enjoys backpacking, gardening, drawing, painting, travel, reading, and remodeling his own home.
When asked which tool he’d be on a construction site, Gary doesn’t hesitate: “I would be the wire stripper. I love doing electrical work. My dad was an electrician and a mentor. I was always following him around, asking him questions about what he was doing and if I could try to do what he was doing.”
Though he loves a good electrical project – he recently converted an old car to electric – Gary is quick to say, “For the record, I love doing carpentry, so I’m happy being a hammer, too.”
No matter which tool he chooses, we’re thrilled that Gary is putting it to good use with Habitat. Welcome aboard, Gary!