After spending six weeks in Texas working with the Fuller Center, one would think that I picked up a slew of construction skills and knowledge, however one would be wrong. Sure, I learned a bit about drywall installation, tiling and floors, but I somehow didn't feel that I learned that much. That could also just be my discrediting my own abilities, who knows. Like I said, I wasn't initially excited to be building homes in the cold, but I kept my fingers crossed and hoped for the best. Compared to the Fuller Center, I knew that our work with Habitat would be vastly different in one key regard, organization. While in Texas, I often wondered what the team would be doing on a day to day basis, I knew that this time around I'd have a little more direction. Every week our first day of work would start with an all staff construction meeting, discussing the progress from the prior week and a rough layout of plans for the week to come. This was like music to my (Type A) ears, actual organisation and plans, things were looking up for this project.
The organization continued, not only were we given direction (and a voice) at the Tuesday meetings, I also received daily updates and work site plans from each site supervisor the night before work. There was no more guessing as to what we would be doing each day, which made my job as a Team Leader much easier, allowing me to decide who to send where, as we were almost exclusively split between two work sites each day. Not only have I been extremely grateful to the staff of Habitat. but also the initiative and responsiveness from my team members. I knew that I could trust my team members to work in a professional manner, whether I was present on the work site or not. Our first week of work was an introduction to each work site and the work we would be doing at them.
Our two sites with new construction work are Poplar Grove a set of duplex units in Longmont, and another trio of units in Lyons. Both of these sites include units at various stages of construction, from wall bracing and roof truss, to drywall and painting, there is a little bit of everything for the team to work on. The final site the team will be working at is less of a 'site' per say and more of a neighborhood. Habitat St. Vrain takes part in a neighborhood revitalization program and has committed to helping those living in Dacono, a small town south east of where we're living. The town is unique in that homeowners own the plot of land they live on, but almost exclusively have chosen to build mobile homes on the plot. Unfortunately, these homes are not built to last forever and many of them are in need of critical repairs, from new roofs and flooring to flood damage restoration and flooring. The work is more in line with what my team was doing in Texas last round, but again more organized and streamlined.
The only big disappointment thus far in our project is that we very likely won't be able to take part in the accelerated builds, one in Dacono and one in Estes Park. The build in Estes is actually on hold due to the government shutdown, Habitat is partnered with the USDA for this project and as things are on hold with funding so is the progress of this project. I personally am not upset, as working in Estes would mean extremely cold work days, and while the views would be beautiful, I prefer not freezing my butt off all day. The second, in Dacono was supposed to get started while we were here, but this one too has met delays, I guess this is pretty common when you're working with contractors who are doing work pro bono.
Thus far our work has varied from day to day, offering variety and challenges which I believe keeps the team on their toes. One of my personal highlights is our ability to work alongside long term volunteers. Working in a smaller community means that the volunteers coming out to work with Habitat are committed to the community and serve on a regular basis, versus larger organisations like the one in Metro Denver who see more one-day volunteer groups. I've spent multiple days getting to know these volunteers, learning from them and their experience, both in life and on the work site.
We're already halfway through our service here in Colorado and while I'm enjoying the work, the people and the city, I can't help myself but to look forward to the next half of this round. That's always been a challenge of mine though, always one step ahead of myself (hello plane ticket to Germany), but I'm working on it. Trying to stay present in the work I'm doing here, learning from the staff, volunteers and my team, all of which have a wealth of information and experience I can learn from. While some days present challenges and I wonder if I'm crazy for accepting this job, I've also never laughed so much on a daily basis in my life. I live with 10 people, grocery shop weekly for an army and work my butt off, but I'm having a blast through it all.
A Year of Service
My life, being anything but predictable, has taken another turn. Rather than moving to Jeju, South Korea - my original plan for Fall '18, I'm going to test drive Denver, CO and its surroundings, an area people just keep telling me "I'd love".