Habitat for Humanity had been on my radar a long time. I dreamt about helping to build one of those houses for years. The first two tries, I had work-related conflicts. This year, I just scheduled it – cleared my calendar, and took control. After the third try, I finally got a chance to participate in a build. The home would become the future “habitat” of the Hernandez family, a single mother with two boys.
Growing up in a family of handy-persons, there was always a lot of construction going on in our house. This was different. With every swing of the hammer, every slap of the staple gun, every shot of the nail gun, we were creating a future for people we’ve never met. Inside these walls would be a family making memories. This Hernandez family’s future was literally being shaped by our very hands. This was significant and meaningful. I soaked up every moment, by moment. I was completely in my element.
I had a choice between siding and roofing. I chose siding. On my team were four workers (apprentices), and one team leader – three women, and two men. Our leader, Kevin, was probably in his late 20s, Larry was in his 60s, Kelley in her 70s, and Nancy in her 30s. I was paired mostly with Kelley, from Mill Valley, California, who said she’d built at least 8 of these homes all around the world. Nancy came from New Jersey, and is a Controller for a beef jerky company.
I know my limits, and holding up a sheet of fiber-cement siding until someone could get it nailed in is one. I know where I could add the most value, and that is probably during cleanup. While everyone was wrapping up in the last hour, I chose to sweep up the mounds and mounds of wood chips and sawdust inside the house.
Most of the 15 or so workers came via Global Village. This was their week-long vacation, dedicated to accomplish a major feat, to meet some new people, and see new places. Half of the money they paid went to Habitat. Their costs included food and board for the week, a shuttle to take them to and from the site, and sightseeing.
My hope is to return in November, when the final touches are being added, trim, hardware, paint, and – yes – cleanup.
For your viewing pleasure, the Flikr album of the site, but I’m not in it.