This post is in tribute to Nick Volk who passed away in August, 2017. It was written by Karen Visentin, Lifetime Habitat Member and former Habitat Toronto board member.
Nick was someone who I began to think never slept,
Back in the day, for Nick, the fax machine was like a cherished toy and one that he used constantly. During the period in which he was chair of Habitat Toronto, it was not unusual to receive a fax from him at two in the morning. Whether it was about an idea he had or an article on housing that he wrote.
“There were quite a few of us who lost unbroken sleep during his years as chair,” Karen jokingly explains. “We all silently cheered when Nick moved onto email – it was much quieter.”
Nick was always forward thinking. He planned three projects ahead, and never doubted that he would be there for every one of them. He also believed in the “power of every,” working with all levels of government, corporations and people of all incomes to improve Toronto’s affordable housing stock.
Nick was fearless in his asks. He never hesitated to speak to anyone about Habitat for Humanity and explain what our needs were to provide safe, decent, and affordable homes for more families. He was a pioneer in the affordable housing space, and his legacy expands far beyond his work with Habitat for Humanity.
Learn more about Nick Volk’s career as a housing advocate:
Nick’s Habitat for Humanity bio:
Nick started volunteering with Habitat for Humanity Toronto in 1993 and served on the board of directors from 1994 to 2002, and was the chair from 1998 to 2002. After 2002, Nick continued his service to the board in an advisory role. Nick was a tireless champion of both Habitat for Humanity and the families it served. Under Nick’s leadership, Habitat Toronto significantly increased its capacity to build homes for more families. Nick was also a strong believer that one could always do better and his goal of 100 Habitat homes a year never wavered.
One of Habitat Toronto’s most significant builds during Nick’s tenure as Chair was the home built during World Youth Day in 2002, which was blessed by Pope John Paul II. Nick’s deep faith, commitment to Habitat for Humanity’s mission, and his never-ending encouragement of staff and volunteers, made him one of the organization’s most beloved volunteers. His service to Habitat for Humanity Toronto was honoured through a dedication of 14 homes in his name following his board tenure.
Photo taken from: Harvard Magazine’s profile on Nick Volk