12 February 2009

Spring is Coming: Bring Out the Toolbelt

It was an absolutely glorious weekend this past Saturday and Sunday, and groundhog or no, I'm hopeful that this warming burst somehow triggers an early return of Spring. I'm so over Winter, and its snow, cold wind, and long, grey days...and I live in the Mid-Atlantic, for Pete's sake, where really we have nothing to endure weather-wise. (People back home, especially the dear Mama, who have suffered through endless snow, ice, sleet and the ever-so-fun occasional power outage have something to really complain about.)

So, with the warm weather, I'm returning to a passion of mine: DIY. But not my DIY (as I'm now at a point with the apartment where I can only do so much more as a renter) specifically, but back to volunteering with Habitat for Humanity on a more regular basis. There is something really quite wonderful about helping someone build, and then live in, a new home: a home you helped to construct with your own hands, your own sweat, your own labour. And if you learn, or maybe re-learn, a new skill or two along the way...you're better off still. Few opportunities exist that are this immediately rewarding.

To those that want to learn, Habitat for Humanity build sites are really quite educational and wonderful. (I've always believed that if all the 'flippers' of recent years had been required to do a year volunteering with Habitat prior to getting their loans, a good number of homes nationwide would not have been as botched, or unsold. You want reality about home construction/refurbishing? Come follow and film Habitat for awhile.) Sure, some volunteers are more skilled than others (and I'm certainly on the lower end of even the less skilled, as several builders and professional tradespeople often donate their time), but the spirit of helping out others...and actually carrying that spirit through from inception to completion...is contagious. Except for lunchtime when everyone is ravenous, no one's going around checking the time as everyone is just plowing along, from one task to the next (and lunch gets donated sometimes from people saying 'thanks', too). With very few restrictions, you can learn any number of skills and help out on any number of projects. You work alongside the future homeowners (who are required to put in a substantial amount of 'sweat equity'), church groups, friends of the intended family, construction professionals, and people just like me...people who walk in off the street with a pair of work gloves and are willing to help. And the demand for affordable housing, especially in these troubled economic times, is great indeed.

So, this past Saturday, I joined up with Habitat again...this time with a very lively and productive group from Pittsboro, NC. This group presently has three homes under construction at the Pittsboro site I worked at, plus another closer to completion in nearby Siler City, NC. And while I am very rusty, I got handed a job that I actually wasn't too bad at (albeit a bit slow): exterior painting. Below is some of my painting handiwork (I think we've got about 65-70% of the house painted now), of which I'm pretty proud. Not bad for a first day back in a long time...

This is one of the three homes currently under construction in Pittsboro. This one, and the one to its right, are single story construction, while the third one across the street is a two story. First time I've been to a Habitat site with these many volunteer build homes (a cul de sac at the end of a wooded lane, if you will) being constructed simultaneously.

Perhaps not much to brag about unless you're me: did the whole side of this until the high portions above the window, as I'm bad with ladders)...the window is well above my height and I'm close to six feet tall. I was pleased actually, been ages since I worked with a roller.

No comments: