Friday, September 3, 2010

Habitat Build Day!

Last weekend 12 of my work colleagues drywalled the second floor of a Habitat for Humanity home in Trenton NJ. But my Habitat story doesn't really start there. Or end there.

Back in 1997, I was in between colleges. I was transferring from one college and moving to another. I wanted to do Habitat for Humanity during the summer. And I really wanted to work in Arizona or Utah. The problem was that the staff there didn't have a position. But Oakland did!

So in the summer of 1997, I packed my bags and moved for 8 weeks to the Bay Area. (How my parents encouraged me to do that I will never know! But they did! And I'm still thankful!) I lived in a house that was owned by one of our wealthy board members. They were trying to sell the home. The three Habitat interns (who were paid 300 a month) could live there for free if we took care of it and made sure it was ready for viewings during the weekend.

That summer was the start of many good things in my life. Not the least of which was living out there. And meeting good friends that I'm still in touch with. And being able to move back in 1999. And meeting my husband in 2000.

So, ya know. It was important.

But that summer at Habitat was amazing! I continued to volunteer- mostly in the office and with the faith community for the 5 years I lived in California. The people of the affiliate and the mission of Habitat continues to inspire me. But then grad school happened. And then kid number one happened. And then kid number two.

And suddenly 4 years went by and I hadn't had my Habitat fix. Until this past weekend.

As a corporate group, we needed to come up with $2500 in order to build on site. I needed to write a short proposal and speak to the President of our 700 person company about my interest in leading a group of volunteer staff. They gave me the green light in April and I booked our August build day. That itself was a feat. They don't approve every proposal because we don't have unlimited funds so I was really happy and proud that they were able to support me and Habitat this way.

It was a great day! I love that individuals that have never touched a power tool feel encouraged and empowered to do so. Everyone was very nervous starting off and I felt personally responsible that everyone have a great build. With the money donated and everyone's Saturday time on the line, I felt a bit nervous. But then I was my typical energetic self and made people laugh. Our tough 'professionalism' facades gave way to serious giggling and sweating as the 12 of us heaved HEAVY dry wall into the ceilings of a new home that would house a family with young children.

What a great day!

It was an important day for me for several reasons. 1) I got to do something again which I'm passionate about. 2) I got to do something that didn't invovle my self as a mother or myself as a worker but as someone who cares deeply about her community and about BUILDING community- both in a low income neighborhood and in my group of collegues and 3) I was able to show my colleagues a different side of myself. One that they don't get to see because I'm so junior. My LEADERSHIP side.

So in some ways, 8 hours on site working on ONE house for ONE family for ONE day is nothing but a drop in the bucket. But for me, it was huge.

Thanks to my company and my colleagues for coming out! Anyone can do Habitat! Volunteer where you are! You won't be disappointed!

1 comment:

Jessica {Team Rasler} said...

Inspiring! I'm impressed by you, and resolving to get back to volunteering this year, too.