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Uncle Wili’s words of wisdom

If you’ve volunteered with Habitat in the past year, you probably know Uncle Wili. Since 2020, he has spent more than 250 hours helping build homes with other Habitat families and community volunteers. 

Finally, last month, we began constructing his home in Waimanalo.

Uncle Wili is the first to arrive and last to leave his site every day.

He begins each morning with a walk around the property, inspecting materials and readying for volunteers. He stocks the coolers with ice, assembles the handwashing station and unlocks the porta-jon. All day long, Uncle Wili meticulously tends to his lot with the devotion and care of a homeowner.

In February, Uncle Wili suffered a stroke that limited his speech. Determined to mahalo those helping build his home, he curated this list of his favorite “life lessons” to share his heartfelt gratitude with volunteers every morning. 

Uncle Wili’s Words of Wisdom

  1. Surround yourself with people who when they see you coming, their eyes light up.
  2. Don’t save anything for a special occasion, being alive IS the special occasion. 
  3. Sometimes the reason good things aren’t happening to you is because you are the good thing that needs to happen to someone else. 
  4. Try fast, fail first, learn fast. Never give up. 
  5. Kindness is free.
  6. You only fail if you quit.
  7. True humility is not thinking less of yourself, it is thinking of yourself less. 
  8. Mahatma Gandhi said, “To find yourself, you must first lose yourself in the service of others,”.

These past 21 days I will be forever grateful to my wife Cheryl – loving, kind and strong. The best medicine is her honest listening. If I was to pass away last week, I will admit I would feel sadness at leaving life so soon, but I would mostly feel gratitude for the many good things and people in my life. Your family – your ohana – is everything.

Mahalo for sharing your love, aloha and precious time with our ohana. Aloha ke akua, God bless you always.

Sincerely, Uncle Wili

Uncle Wili Gramberg epitomizes what it means to be a Habitat homeowner. He inspires us daily and never misses a chance to drop a joke. He works tirelessly, gives generously and shares his aloha with each and every person he encounters. We are humbled and grateful to work alongside him in his journey to homeownership. 

Make a donation in honor of Uncle Wili.

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