Today was our beach/ free day. About 7 of us girls set our alarms for 5:45 am in order to wake up and see the sunrise. It was a great but chilly start to our day. We were able to go back to bed for a few hours afterward to catch up on our sleep for the week. Everyone grabbed some breakfast and hit the beach right away. We built sandcastles, searched for seashells, layed out tanning, and played volleyball all day long. The weather was a beautiful 65 degrees with a cloudless bright blue sky. Some people were brave enough to wade into the chilly water and search for sand dollars – which are really rare to find in one piece on this beach. For dinner, we went to a great local seafood place called Flounders. We all stuffed our faces and enjoyed their 3 layer stacked high key lime pie. Afterward we headed back to the house to reflect on the week. Kathy asked us questions ranging from “What were your highs and lows for the week?” to “how has this trip changed you?” Some of the “highs” of the week included being a part of the dedication service on Thursday, getting to know everyone on the team better, and realizing our potential as students to make a difference. Several of us were able to conquer our fear of heights and push ourselves to get on the roof and climb ladders. Others were proud to be able to conquer their fear of failure and see that even though they are girls or may not know anything about hammering or construction they can still be a huge asset to the team. Some of the “lows” for most of us was the frustration of not being able to get nails in straight and having to take criticism by learning how to do an assignment correctly. We were also kind of disappointed we weren’t able to completely finish the shingling on the roof. We summed up our week with words like friendship, impact, experience, hard work, and community building. It was awesome to get to build friendships with people we had never met before and come together as much as we did in just one week. We thanked Kathy and Nurse Pam so much for their support and overwhelming selflessness for leading this trip and being up for anything we asked/wanted to do.
As Nurse Pam so eloquently said, “it takes a lot of hands to build a house, but also take a lot of heart to make it a home.”
Thanks so much for reading and I hope these miniature accounts help give you a glimpse into an awesome experience that I highly encourage you to participate in at some point in your life.
We got to the work site this morning refreshed and pumped to start working again after not being able to work much yesterday. The crew members listed off what needed to be done and we eagerly followed to the designated project areas. One major thing was getting windows and doors in. The windows took about an hour to do with all the people helping. Most of us headed up on to the roof to begin putting the OSB board/plywood on the tresses. The right side of the roof had been completed before the storm yesterday, but we still had the entire left side to put together. Walking on the tresses is tricky and quite scary, yet some of the girls jumped at the challenge to stand on the edge and lift the large boards up with little standing room. We all spread out and got the left side finished pretty quickly. The next step was to put the felt or tar paper on top of the plywood. The tar paper was the base so that the shingles can be put on. The tar paper took a little while longer than anticipated because it’s kinda tricky to roll out and keep from bubbling up. One crew member went along the very edge of the house to put “drip edge” which is very tricky to nail in because you literally have to sit on the edge of the house and hope you didn’t fall off. After lunch the shingles were delivered. We also had about 7 volunteers from the Air Force working on the project today which was a huge help. They got a lot of the shingles nailed in and we followed their lead. As 2 o’clock approached we began cleaning up the trash and nails that were scattered across the work site. All three doors were installed and sealed. We all got up on the roof for our final group picture and began saying our goodbyes to our crew members and new friends. We were also able to go into the house and sign our names and a little note to the family on some of the walls. One of the girls asked Bill (one of the head crew leaders) how far he thought we would’ve gotten done today, he had said in all honesty he didn’t think we would even get to begin on shingles, and by the time we left we had a fourth of the roof shingled. We were extremely happy we accomplished more than expected, but at the same time bummed we weren’t able to shingle the entire roof.
As we were leaving some of the neighbor kids had just gotten home from school and came by to see how much had been done to the house. It was so sweet to talk to them and take pictures with them after just meeting them. They helped us pick up some of the scraps around the yard. I couldn’t help but smile as they ran into the house and throughout the rooms laughing and playing. As one girl said at our reflection time, “it was awesome to see them enjoying the house and imagine that one day an actual family will be doing the same thing.”
Once we left the site we had the privilege and honor to go to the house that Maryville students built last year at spring break and be a part of the dedication service to the family living there. The new homeowners, a mother and daughter, named Charlotte and Nancy were so thankful and happy to the team and Habitat for their new home. In case you didn’t know how Habitat for Humanity works, needy families may apply for a house and are accepted according to their financial need and ability to place a down payment and pay a monthly mortgage. They must also invest a certain amount of hours to building projects in their area once they have been accepted. Charlotte and Nancy were such a blessing to meet, they couldn’t stop smiling and thanking all the partners that contributed to the building of their house. We could tell they took a lot of pride in being new homeowners. They not only graciously invited us into their new home with open arms but with open hearts. They let us into their life and allowed us to hear their story and how Habitat for Humanity and volunteers from our own university helped change their life. Moments like this made our team extremely glad and thankful we spent our spring break making a difference in people’s lives.
Please follow this link to learn more about the organization and if you would like to donate or volunteer to a building project near you. http://www.habitat.org/how/factsheet.aspx
To our surprise there was no rain when we awoke this morning. During breakfast we tuned into the local weather channel to see a large red glob on the map traveling towards us. We headed out to the work site anyways. We arrived and got right to work on adding plywood to the tresses to form the roof of the house. The climb onto the roof was pretty intimidating for me because I’m scared to death of heights and the ladder was anything but secure. We all climbed up and cautiously scooted across the roof and began hammering. At about 9:30, the crew leaders received a call that there was a tornado warning and we had about 45 minutes until the rain hit. We sped up our duties on the roof and began packing up stuff into the truck. 30 minutes later the sky suddenly got much darker and the wind started to blow harder. We realized it wasn’t the smartest idea to stay on the roof with hammers and power saws with a storm coming. As terrifying as the wobbly ladders were, we frantically climbed down hammers and all. Once everything was packed up, we sought shelter in the vans and played a few games of “What if” to try and wait out the rain. At 11:15 the crew workers decided to call it a day. We drove back to the house for an exciting afternoon of card games and catch phrase. Most of us just hung out and napped for the afternoon. We made delicious tacos for dinner and ended our fun day with karaoke. It’s bittersweet that tomorrow is our last day, but so exciting that we have been able to accomplish so much on the house.