For many people, retirement means escaping the drudgery of work, meeting new people and fulfilling a few dreams.
But one woman is doing that and more, while giving back to the Central Florida community.
In her pink hard hat and boots, Beryl Wiltshire isn't your average construction worker. After retiring from a career as a legal secretary in London, she followed her husband's job to Florida.
Three years ago, she became a habitat for humanity volunteer.
“Well, I started doing it when I was 69, with absolutely no skills,” Wiltshire said.
A quick learn, she now puts in hours each week helping to build someone else's dream.
“When I come out and they're here and they give me a hug, that makes you feel good,” Wiltshire said.
Beryl is not the only volunteer on the crew. Everyone except the supervisor is giving their time to restore a Pine Hills home.
Habitat currently has nine homes they're working on just in the greater Orlando area. They're hoping to do up to 20 homes this year, which will see between 3,000 and 4,000 volunteers like Beryl. But there's always a need for more volunteers.
In addition to complete rehabs, habitat volunteers also do minor painting and fix-ups for other homes to revitalize neighborhoods.
“For a start I've learned all about Habitat and how it works,” Wiltshire said. “It's a hand up, not a hand out. I meet some beautiful people who are doing their hours. The staff here are fantastic.”
Wiltshire has worked on up to 50 different projects in the past three years, and has no plans to slow down or quit. This career means too much to her and others.
“I'd just say come and give it a try,” Wiltshire said. “There's something for everybody out here, and there's such wonderful people that teach you, that have patience and it's such a good opportunity to enjoy yourself but to help other people as well.”
The greater Orlando Habitat is expect to build or rehab homes for nearly 100 families and serve an additional 300 through fix-up projects over the next five years.