Monday, May 27, 2013

Volunteering With Habitat for Humanity

I had so much fun Friday volunteering with Habitat for Humanity at a build site in East Baltimore.  I can't wait to tell you all about it.  But first thing's first.  I was supposed to be at the build site at 8:30 in the morning so I got up bright and early to have my usual morning protein shake.  On the menu was chocolate banana with peanut butter. 

I also made lunch to bring to the build site - a Tofurky sandwich with vegan pepper jack, tomato, and mustard.  I'm not sure what happens to vegan cheese if you leave it out of the fridge but luckily it was a cool day and I left my lunch under the car seat.  I also brought myself a banana but never got around to eating it.  
After brief introductions in the morning we carried tools over to the house we would be working on that day and got our assignments. Because it was a rainy day we worked inside, mostly installing flooring on the second and third floors and in the basement.  I was assigned to the third floor master bedroom with two other volunteers.  
While the two men I worked with installed the flooring I took measurements for the end pieces and cut them down to size.  That's right ... I used a saw!  I actually used three different kinds of saws: a circular saw, a  table saw, and a jigsaw.  
Most of my time I spent running up and down the stairs because the circular saw was on the main floor set up in the living room. That was the one I used most often to cut end pieces down to size.  I only used the table saw and jigsaw a couple of times to cut pieces around corners in the room and to trim to fit around door frames.  
Ironically, if you'd asked me what one thing I wouldn't have wanted to do before that day I would've said use the saw.  Though I wasn't there to witness it, a friend's father cut off his own pinky with a circular saw when we were kids.  I've had what I would call a "healthy fear" of most power tools since then.  
Getting the chance to use the saws with Habitat felt really empowering - knowing that I could conquer that fear, learn a new skill, and actually put it to use.  
The whole experience was a total blast.  The other volunteers were great and the AmeriCorps leaders were an incredible asset.  Almost no one came in with any real skills to offer but the AmeriCorps leaders taught us, helped us, and never once laughed when we found ourselves in trouble.  Between the three of us on the third floor, we managed to lay flooring down in about 2/3 of the room.  It would have been nice to finish the whole thing, but I'm still amazed at all our progress in just one day - especially considering we were total noobies!
I can't believe this is the first time I volunteered with Habitat.  I'll definitely be doing it again soon!

When I got home I ended up lazing around for the rest of the evening.  I wasn't really that tired or sore from the work with Habitat (though I would be the next day - all that running up and down the stairs took its toll on my calves!), but I hadn't planned much to do with the rest of my day.  I made a simple dinner of pasta with broccoli, garlic, and fresh basil.  Then lounged around watching TV until it was time for bed.  All-in-all, a pretty perfect day!

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