"Good morning and thank you for coming to volunteer with Habitat! Come on in the trailer, grab some coffee and let's get you checked in!"
That is how I've been starting my morning off. Well, I usually start my morning off by checking my email and on occasion, the news on my iPhone and wasting at least 15 minutes of time, in and out of consciousness, trying to wake up in bed.
Then I throw on my dirty jeans, brew my coffee, make a lunch and walk across my whole neighborhood to get to Division and 171st, the biggest Habitat for Humanity construction site in all of Oregon. 45 homes in two years.
All the houses on the site are in different stages. Some are flat foundations, others bare frames and a few completely finished! But when I walk up to the site and see the Habitat logo on posters of family portraits of soon to be first-time homeowners, I know I am right where I belong. I may not know what the heck I'm doing half the time but I'm learning and it's where I feel I'm suppose to be. I may not know much about construction, or what the heck I'm doing half the time but I'm learning lots and I am right where I feel I'm suppose to be!
It is my job now to educate my volunteers, my peers, family and those I meet on the street about how important Habitat for Humanity is.
It was the morning of the Hopebuild 2012 fundraising breakfast for Habitat PDX last Spring when I realized I had a passion for the organization. Two families were focused on at Portland Convention Center that morning. Pam had recently started caring for her grandson and feared how she could make do with what space she had when Pam had given up her own bed room and was sleeping on the couch. At the event, she spoke about the moment she got the call from Habitat saying she had been selected as she drove to pick her grandson up at school. She had to pull over. She was going to own her first home. Pam also painted a picture of their first night in their new home. He almost bounced off the walls exclaiming "This is ours? This is ours! Look in the cabinets grandma!"
Of course, as Pam talked, my tears started to collect. I had painted her porch.
The Lund Family had also been recently selected for homeownership the beginning of the year. Ann is a single mother of two boys and one girl. Her daughter has Rett Syndrome, a neurodevelopment disorder and needs constant care. The astonishing part about this story is that not only does her daughter's not fit through the front door of their current apartment but can not even maneuver around the apartment itself!
I wanted to work closely with the families and hear more of their stories, so I wrote my first cover letter, improved my resume and was called for a phone interview. Then an in-person interview. Luckily, the timing was perfect as I was in town for my second Portland project in AmeriCorps NCCC.
I wasn't selected for that position; however, I was informed I had impressed and was encouraged to have a second phone interview, this time for Construction Site Crew Leader. A week later, while I was picking up sticks in San Bernardino Mountains, I received the call that I was chosen to serve as one of the 5 crew leaders to build homes and lead volunteers for the next year. What an honor!
So now, I'm teaching volunteers what I may have just learned that morning but I'm upfront with my amount (or lack of) knowledge and tell my volunteers...
"Thank you so much for coming out. If it wasn't for you, THIS wouldn't be here! From our regulars to our newbies, any way you help out today is a perfect way and we thank you. Today is going to be a Great Day!"
When I say, today is going to be a Great Day, I truly mean it. For you, for me, for everyone we are helping. A Great Day in deed.
Portland Youth Build house