Sunday, March 3, 2013

Day 3: So Show Me Family

Day 3: Some People Used Sledgehammers Today 
For those who frequent our blog, we apologize for the absence of a "Quote of the Day" section

So today marked our second work day, and the first major division of our group amongst projects.

We began our morning a bit later than our usual, thanks to a combination of late-night snack that devoured half of our breakfasts and some individuals' showering tendencies. ("I shower like a diva." This was offered as defense. My butt. Oh, wait. It was me that said that...)

We then headed towards Rockgate, the community of Habitat homes that we worked in yesterday. There we were greeted by StevEarl, the previously-identified patriarch of the RoCo/CSCHabitat coalition [who was absent from yesterday's proceedings], as well as Matt, the cool big brother of said coalition. After some hugs and reunitements, we divided into two groups, hereby referred to as Group 1 and Group 2. (For those unfamiliar with our family assessment of Habitat, see yesterday's post.)

Group 1 consisted of ten individuals, led by StevEarl and Hank. (This group included one of your trusty bloggers, Andrew.) We headed to a completely different community in another part of the city, where we were helping on the rehabilitation of a home for a partner family.

The inner-workings of Habitat are considerably more complex than what will be explained here, but to put it simply: families have to apply for housing, which can take a couple of forms--either construction or rehabilitation. Construction homes are built from the ground up for the partner family. Rehabilitated homes are homes from either previous Habitat families or outside families that are donated or sold to Habitat for usage. This was a rehab house, being given to a woman that had previously been with the Habitat program but had had to drop. When StevEarl was able to tell her that Habitat was able to secure this particular house for her to live in, she cried because she had grown up in this exact neighborhood. (Cue "It's a Small World, After All".) Not only that, but she had family and friends that still lived in the area. Not only was Habitat providing a house for her, she was getting a community, too. This kind of story is so cool because it speaks to the heart of Habitat and the people that work with Habitat - providing not just houses but HOMES. (Cue Phillip Phillips.) She also cried because the plans for her new house involved a first-floor laundry room, something she had never had before.

Group 1's projects centered around two projects: sheetrock and windows. Sheetrock bears a stunning resemblance to drywall, and between the measuring/remeasuring/reremeasuring/cutting/recutting required to sheetrock the laundry room (where you have to take into account the piping and outlets that pepper a laundry room wall) and the less-complicated task of sheetrocking and caulking other parts of the house, some screams were exchanged and some blood was spilled.  For the window project, windows had to be replaced and caulked around. This involved a good deal of broken glass. (Which can be scary.) Again, screams were exchanged and some blood may or may not have been spilled. BUT WE GOT THE JOB DONE. YEAH!

Groups 1 and 2 reunited midday for a lunch provided by Habitat, consisting of pizza. After the pizza, a small group of Habitat-ers attempted to burn calories by Zumba-ing. For one particular song, Rihanna's "S&M", Group 1 was frightened/delighted to discover that there was a chain at the Rockgate site. A long chain. Which coincides frighteningly well with "S&M"'s lyrics. Group 2-er Bridget utilized the chain to the fullest for the rest of the afternoon. Another song, "Get Buck in Here", features some suggestive choreography that involves hip thrusts and slapping the ground with your butt in the air. It just so happened that while one Zumba-er (blogger Andrew) was doing the main part of "Buck in Here", a woman living in the Rockgate community drove by and said, "D***!". Andrew's butt happened to be in the air. It may or may not have made his entire 2013 thus far.

After lunch, Group 1 returned to their site. (Three people rode in the bed of StevEarl's truck. This involved some time on the highway, which was a bit frightening.) They then went back to work, to finish sheetrock-ing and cleaning up the storage container where many of the tools are stored. Some of the equipment had to go back to Rockgate, so Shannon and Katie piled into StevEarl's truck to take it there, about twenty-five minutes before we left. They then preceded to get very lost... more on that later.

Group 2 consisted of the rest of the individuals (including another of your bloggers, Mollie), led by Matt and Rev. Paul. Work in Rockgate consisted of demolition: taking down fences and knocking down some cinder block foundation. (They got to use sledgehammers. Group 1 was extremely jealous.) Progress was also made on El Diablo, a dilapidated truck that hasn't ran in two years that's parked behind Habitat's Rockgate offices. Brendan, Dylan, and a rotating group of testosterone-infused Habitat-ers worked both today and yesterday at trying to mobilize El Diablo as well as a large (unnamed as of yet*) box van. Both of these were accompanied by a lot of cornhole, photography, racing in wheelbarrows, and a lot other shenanigans. A handful of people gathered atop for a dance party on top of one of the tool containers for various parts of the day, as well. (It's worth noting that this trip hasn't been the non-stop dance party that usually makes up a good portion of our work week.)

* We're currently taking nominations for names. The only viable candidates thus far are Foxy Boxy and Kristen Stewart. Clearly we need help.

We closed up shop and gathered back together at around 3:30, expecting to then depart to StevEarl's house. Group 1 departed roughly twenty-five minutes after they had sent Shannon and Katie to Rockbridge to unload equipment. When the whole group gathered together, though, Shannon and Katie were nowhere to be found. After some time spent calling and tracking them down, we realized that they had gotten lost. Wayyyyyyy lost.

So after waiting for an excessively long period of time, we gave up and headed to StevEarl's house. (After figuring out where they were and what they were doing, Shannon and Katie showed up twenty or so minutes after we got there.) At Steve's house, we enjoyed a wonderful dinner of tacos, courtesy of Steve's wife Julie. We also got to spend time with other members of our Habitat family - Matt, of course, and Talisha and Emily.

I'm always amazed at the Davis family's ballsiness at letting a grubby group of [wannabe] construction workers into their really really nice house. But not only do they do it, they do it willingly, and try to turn it into a temporary home for us. They let us watch TV, eat delicious food, play with their dog Oggie, and take advantage of their hammock, man-cave-back-porch, and horseshoe range. I don't know if there's ever any type of official thank you distributed to the people who let us invade their homes while we're in South Carolina, but hopefully that ends here:

 Dear Steve, Julie, and Oggie,

Thank you so much for the generosity you showed tonight. Julie, the food was absolutely delicious, as it always is. Steve, well, there are plenty of words, but half of them can't be said in a thank-you note, so we'll just leave it with an over-arching thank you. Oggie, we're sorry if we scared the crap at our you at the beginning of the night, but hope you enjoyed some additional attention.

We always look forward to time with you all, so thank you for opening up your house tonight.

Lots of love,
Roanoke College Habitat for Humanity

P.S. We apologize if you need to have your carpets cleaned from our shoes... just charge it to Paul. :)

After leaving the Davis household, we returned back to our camp. We looked at some pictures (Group 2 was vastly more well-represented in the photography department). And now we're all going to sleeping, getting ready to embark on the adventure that is day three of a RoCo Habitat work week.

On a general level, South Carolina is the coldest its been since anyone currently on the trip [sans Paul and Hank] can remember. This means that volleyball, which is our usual Habitat tradition, is sort of not being played at the minute. [Unfortunately.] With some luck, Habitat-ers might grow some cold-resistant balls and head to volleyball court tomorrow. Without it, well... we always have our four-square ball with us.

And on a personal level: something always strikes us about nights like tonight, and it might become a bit redundant throughout the week: how much RoCo/CSCHabitat truly does operate like a family. Between Steve, Paul, and Hank, we have three father figures/role models to look up to (no matter how much they may try to deny knowing us whenever they're able to). Between Jennifer and Julie, we have two saints/mother figures/role models to look up two (they're married to Paul and Steve, respectively, which elevates them beyond their already-saintly status). With Matt, Talisha, Emily, and whoever else tags along, we have older brothers and sisters. And with the rest of us, we're a Yours, Mine, and Ours-esque hodgepodge of students. 

And to us students, Habitat provides us a chance to leave behind the college life for a little while.  No matter who we are at school, no matter where we come from [this trip's participants come from everywhere from Alaska to California to Pakistan], no matter our personality, interests, gifts, or limitations, we're all here for a reason, and we're all blessed by being here.

There's a Lumineers song that just about anyone who listens to the radio knows by now that goes, "So show me family / All the blood that I would bleed". Well, Lumineers songwriter (whoever you happen to be...), here is family.

And we're so glad to be here.

So until tomorrow, where there's a stronger possibility for rain that we'd like to admit, and we will be joined by William Greer, RoCo's director of church relations,

Andrew Dittmar and Mollie Gleason
Alternative break bloggers extraordinaire

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