Last week my company volunteered for Habitat for Humanity. Only 8 people could volunteer at once, so we ended up with 2 shifts. My shift was last Friday (2/19).
I'll admit I was very nervous. It was only going to be in the 30's and I knew that we would be working outside. I was so bundled up with about 4 layers on. I was also nervous because I am not handy at all and have never used power tools. I really had no idea what I was getting myself into.
Am I looking stylish in my hard hat and safety goggles or what?!?
The morning started out with everyone getting a lesson on safety. They passed out hard hats and safety goggles, and we learned the basics of being safe on the job site (like how to use a ladder). I guess the number one accident on the job site is slips and falls.
Then they asked who wanted to be on a ladder and who wanted to stay on the ground. Now of course I am afraid of heights, so I immediately said, "keep me on the ground!" I was then sent off with the team to work on the porch.
We first started off building a safety railing around the porch. This involved nailing some 2x4's up around the porch. Let me tell you, hammering nails was hard. My poor little wrists were getting tired quickly. Then we had to cut some 2x4's in half, so I got my chance at a circular saw. This scared me to death! I thought I was going to cut my finger off or something, but after I tried it I was hooked!!
After the safety railings were up, we needed to finish screwing the boards down on the porch. We had to first drill small holes in each board, and then using a drill, screw in the boards. At first I wanted to drive in the screws because I was afraid that I would somehow mess up drilling the holes. But I wasn’t strong enough to drive in the screws (you have to put your whole body weight into it). So I ended up taking over the drilling. It was actually pretty easy, and a lot of fun.
Halfway through the day we took a break for lunch. We weren’t able to leave the job site since we only had about 15-20 mins for lunch, so we all had to bring packed lunches. I felt like we were all on a school trip with our brown bagged lunches. We ended up sitting in a circle around this big heater inside the house to keep warm.
After lunch I was back to drilling, and then we moved on to installing some blue board on the outside of the house. By afternoon it had started to warm up, and of course the snow started melting and the whole yard became nothing but a muddy mess. It was still kind of fun.
We wrapped up around 3:30, and let me tell you, I was so exhausted. We really put in some hard physical labor. I went home, took a nice long hot bath, and then took a nap.
Habitat for Humanity is an amazing organization. I had a chance to learn a little bit about the organization while I was working. Families must qualify for a home, and actually pay for the house with a 0% interest loan. They also must put in some sweat equity. There are a couple of crew leaders who are employed by Habitat, but the majority of the workers are volunteers. There were also some students who were there for class credit. There were a few workers who were retired and volunteered a couple of days a week. Houses typically take about 5 months to be built or rehabbed, although I guess they have built a house in as little as 8 weeks! The Central Ohio Habitat typically works on about 25 houses a year (which seems like a lot!!).
The house we were working on was actually about 100 years old, and they basically gutted the whole house and were rehabbing it. It was scheduled to be completed by March 31, but they thought it might not be complete by then.
Overall it was an amazing experience and I am hoping to go back and volunteer again, hopefully when it is a little warmer. If you ever get a chance to volunteer, please do so!