Homeport Volunteer Profile: Deb Coffelt

Deb Coffelt helps young Trabue Crossing resident make a ginger bread house

Deb Coffelt helps young Trabue Crossing resident make a ginger bread house


I’m originally from Springfield, OH. I moved to Columbus 45 years ago after graduating from Bowling Green State University.  For 36 years I taught Art at Lancaster High School. After I retired, I made art - all kinds, but a lot of jewelry. I volunteered for political campaigns. Eventually I began to teach again, but this time as a Social Studies and Science GED preparation teacher.

How did you hear or learn about Homeport and why did you choose to volunteer?

Through word of mouth, I learned of a volunteer information session at Homeport’s Emerald Glen community. I was particularly impressed with Homeport’s Housing Advisory classes. This was during the worst time of the economic downturn, and a lot of people had lost their homes. Homeport’s effort to educate potential homeowners so they could avoid pitfalls in owning a home seemed so important. I wanted to be involved. Six months later, I was volunteering with Homeport’s IT team to run new telephone and Ethernet cables through its ceiling. I did not know what I was doing, and I’m sure I wasn’t the volunteer they expected to show up for the job, but I formed a bond with the team, and learned a lot during the process.

What has been your most meaningful volunteer experience at Homeport?

Deb Coffelt, third from left, at Pheasant Run produce market

Deb Coffelt, third from left, at Pheasant Run produce market

I’ve volunteered throughout my life. My mother was a huge influence because I saw her volunteering with her friends and civic groups -- it was a way of life. Everything I’ve done at Homeport has given me a sense of satisfaction. Knowing that I am fulfilling a need is good enough for me. I have loved helping with the Bright Ideas Book Bank - from donating and sorting books, to helping at the Book Fairs. My most recent volunteer assignment has been teaching art classes to residents at Homeport’s apartment communities for seniors. This could be the most rewarding experience I’ve had here. You are consciously and unconsciously making thousands of decisions during the process of making art. Studies have shown that art therapy positively influences how the brain ages and deters some of the negative effects of Alzheimer’s and dementia.

What have you learned about the need for affordable housing?

I know that housing is expensive and luckily Columbus is still more affordable than many other cities. Homeport’s activity helps to keep Columbus affordable. It strives to create more choices for people in need of affordable housing — not just choices of living spaces, but also in safe and livable communities. The Homeport Gallery, where I volunteered for a time, and had many friends who showed art there, was an example of how Homeport actively created community at times when it was needed.

What would you tell a friend who was considering getting involved as a volunteer?

My advice to anyone considering volunteering at Homeport is that you have to give it a try. There is so much variety in how you can get involved that I’m sure you’ll find at least one way that is rewarding for you.