A couple weeks ago I volunteered with Habitat for Humanity. Volunteer work is familiar to me, but it had been a while since my last experience. Habitat for Humanity reminded me in a wonderful way just how fulfilling and meaningful this kind of work is!
We convened in a school gymnasium near the build before we touched any tools. At the gym we discovered coffee provided by Tim Hortons and fresh fruit and pastries for an impromptu breakfast. We filled ourselves with fuel, the coordinators talked a little bit about the build and gave us a safety orientation. They reminded us to drink lots of water and to take necessary breaks if we were getting too warm. I was impressed with how many different organizations came together for the project. Building homes for other people is something a lot of organizations can really get behind.
Being with the All Weather team, I found myself installing windows instead of nailing framing together. This was cool. I had seen window installations performed, but hadn’t actually done it myself. A chance to learn something new was a bonus! At All Weather I work in shipping, and today I was working alongside senior management, technicians and people from customer service.
At the build site we broke into three groups, one group installing basement windows and the other two up in the framing. We had a great time working, talking and joking together. I did papering around the frame, lifted and held windows in place and nailed them in. During this process I discovered just how indispensible suction cups are when lifting windows into place. By the end of the day I felt like a veteran.
This build site was extremely busy, but also extremely well organized. With everyone identifiable by the color of their shirts and names duct taped to our backs, several hundred people were easily identifiable. Great West Life I think was white. Team Leaders were blue, and All Weather was yellow.
The air at the build was filled with more than just heat and humidity. The sounds of hammers, laughter and excitement were the Habitat song. The vibe was creative, happy and positive. People were easy to talk to. Everyone had come together for a mutual, creative venture, and here I was participating in it. It felt right. Especially working next to the homeowners to be. We could tell they were exhilarated seeing everyone working on their future home. When the lunch hour arrived we were harkened back to the air conditioned gym a few blocks away. With all the hard work I was hungry. The delicious, homemade menu had been prepared by several local churches. This was one of the things that really helped me to feel cared for. I just want to say thanks to all the people who contributed their time to making food for the hungry crew! Perogies supplied the carbohydrates we needed for the heavy work. Desert was equally good! Towards the end of lunch the coordinators did some giveaways, and the All Weather crew won a couple portable radios! Go team!
When the afternoon began to wind down, a crane trundled into the back lane. I briefly wondered what it was there for. I realized then that the second floors had been built on the ground. It didn’t take long before the crane stretched itself into position and gripped the earth. It then lifted the second floors up and onto the framing of the first floors. That was really cool to see.
At the end of the day, the All Weather crew was exhausted. But the spirits in the car as we rode back to work were high and giddy. We had put in a solid day worth of work for a good cause, and we all felt great about it. I think all of us fell asleep early that night. Thanks again to the All Weather crew for making this possible and the people at Habitat for Humanity for your incredible hosting and planning. It will be exciting to see the houses come to completion, as I drive by them on my way to work. Those will be some awesome homes to live in for some really happy people.