Board Member Spotlight: Justin Felker

Meet Justin.

Volunteer. Philosopher. Eagle Scout. Traveler. Foodie. Furniture Maker. Dog Dad. Recent human Dad!

Oh, did we mention he’s also a Rebuild Upstate board member?

When Justin decides to do something, he goes all in. His volunteerism with Rebuild Upstate is no different. Our organization, and the homeowners we serve, are better thanks to Justin’s volunteerism. 

His dream for Rebuild Upstate is to help scale operations to be able to serve 500+ homes per year. This would position Rebuild Upstate to make a dent in the waiting list, across all counties we serve. With Justin on our side, we know we’re one step closer to making our dream a reality.

Q&A with Justin Felker

How did you hear about Rebuild Upstate?

I first connected with Rebuild Upstate through my wife, Kylie. She was introduced via a friend and did a corporate build, then subsequently joined the Greenville advisory council. She then started a random group/collection of friends and contacts that tries to do builds once a quarter (AKA the Screwdriver Squad), and we have been doing builds for the past few years!

What made you decide to get more involved with Rebuild Upstate?

I work behind a desk most days, and really enjoy working with Rebuild to hone my handyman skills and make a difference!

What is your goal as a board member?

I would love to be a part of helping Rebuild scale up operations to be able to serve 500+ homes per year and make a dent in the waiting list, across all counties we serve. I see myself helping with community awareness at large, as well as with our current capital campaign to build out larger storage/office facilities. 

What difference have you seen Rebuild Upstate make in the lives of others?

I was so humbled to be a part of Mrs. B’s repairs– we put siding on her house and replaced some windows, all part of a number of projects done to improve her energy bills and make her home safer. She was so sweet and appreciative, and even though she had little means, she made it a point to make our group feel welcome and bring us coffee and snacks. I really enjoyed seeing the results come to life with her story – where her energy bills went from $700 to under $100 a month – that’s a huge raise!

What is it like being on a Rebuild Upstate build day?

Being on a build day is an awesome experience – mentally, physically and spiritually! Mentally, the day is very engaging, meeting new people, learning new skills, and solving problems/adjusting plans on the fly. Physically, I always work up a good sweat and feel great about the work done at the end of the day. Spiritually, connecting with homeowners, hearing their stories, and how grateful they are is very humbling and rewarding – making the time and energy spent on the build all worth it!

Tell us a little about you. 

I grew up in south Florida, and took a job after college that then relocated me to the upstate of SC in 2009. I then met my wife and settled into the Greenville community. My wife and I recently welcomed our son, Aiden, into the world in October 2021, and it has been quite a ride! We also have an 8-year-old boxer/lab mix pup named Larkin that we love to spoil and take on adventures with us! 

I work during the day as a commercial insurance broker & risk manager – helping my clients design and procure insurance programs and implement risk mitigation strategies. In my freetime, and pre-covid, I enjoy travelling and experiencing other cultures, especially through food and drink, as well as making my own furniture and learning new carpentry skills. During covid, I have come to enjoy honing my handyman skills around the house, as well as taking the family out on lake keowee for some adventure and occasional waterskiing. 

2020 and 2021 have made me see more clearly the importance of having a safe, secure and comfortable home to live in. Rebuild is a way for me to pitch in and help other neighbors in my community feel that sense of home and security, and that is amazing. 

What other community organizations or initiatives are you involved in?

I try not to overcommit myself in any given year, so I can be intentional and focus on the quality of the impact I make. Prior to Rebuild, I spent 5 years as a board member and chair of Little Steps, another upstate non-profit, focused on empowering young parents. I am also a member of the University of Florida alumni association, as well as the Urban Land Institute. 

What else do you want the Rebuild Upstate extended family to know about you?

In addition to my family and upbringing, 2 important things/ideas also helped shaped some of my core values: 

  1. I was involved with Boy Scouts from the time Is was 5 until college – earning my Eagle Scout award, and learning many invaluable life skills along the way
  2. I enjoy the philosophy of Stoicism, which defines virtue by four main types: wisdom, justice, courage, and moderation. Wisdom is subdivided into good sense, good calculation, quick-wittedness, discretion, and resourcefulness. Justice is subdivided into piety, honesty, equity, and fair dealing. Courage is subdivided into endurance, confidence, high-mindedness, cheerfulness, and industriousness. Moderation is subdivided into good discipline, seemliness, modesty, and self-control. Similarly, the Stoics divide vice into foolishness, injustice, cowardice, intemperance, and the rest. One of my favorite teachings is that nothing good comes from panicking – it is better to look at obstacles as opportunities, and use reason and logic to work through problems.