Raised in New York and Alaska, Robert Sweet and his wife have called Indiana home for 45 years and are proud Hoosiers by choice. After retiring from Eli Lilly and Company 10 years ago, Sweet was approached by a friend to volunteer for Greater Indianapolis Habitat for Humanity and quickly found a new passion.
For nine years now, Sweet has served as a full-time member of the Greater Indy Habitat Tiger Team and volunteers for Servants at Work (SAWs), a nonprofit that builds wheelchair ramps to provide individuals with disabilities and conditions of aging with the freedom to remain in their homes and reconnect with their communities. Living just a few steps away from Habitat headquarters, Sweet dedicates thousands of hours to building homes and leading teams. He even purchased tools for his team’s projects to ensure they would have the best tools to efficiently complete the job.
The team together is the true hero. Sweet explains that his Tiger and SAWs teams are a community and “not one person can do it alone.” Each team member comes from a different background and brings different life experiences, opinions, strengths and abilities. Sweet loves that they can all come together despite so many differences, and that each volunteer has an opportunity to make an impact. Sweet prefers to do trim, stoops and interior stairs. He appreciates that someone else on the team likes to organize and another likes to do baseboards. He loves to see the impact on each individual and family helped by his team.
Sweet knows he is only one person making a difference, but he can make an impact one ramp, one set of stairs and one home at a time. At SAWs, he sees his impact immediately when someone who has been home-bound is empowered to come and go from their home.
“Indianapolis has no problem too big that we can’t solve together, and anything that any other city can solve, so can we.” He strongly believes what Central Indiana needs to solve problems is more “sparkplugs”– people with a vision and passion that can energize others, just like the sparkplugs who asked him to volunteer 10 years ago.