Thursday, April 12, 2012

Sweet Home, Alabama

Me putting together the wall of a house
 Now that Spring Break is over I can get back to my normal blogging schedule (or as normal as I make it, when I have time in my busy schedule). I will say that I had a great time exploring the southern United States. I got to cross two more states off my "to visit" list (I want to visit all 50 before I turn 50). I spent a week in Alabama with a quick stop in Knoxville, Tennessee on the way down to cut down the drive. From my University in New York the trip was 12 hours, not including stops for gas and bathroom breaks.
Alabama was more urban than I expected it to be. We were in Fairfield which is about 30 minutes from the city of Birmingham. I spent the week helping begin one house by putting up siding and walls and finishing another house with paint and stain. After all these builds I think I am getting better at using a hammer, but I am still a bit slow. Putting the walls together was hard work, we had to follow the plans which were not always correct and we had to build one wall three times. Staining was easier, but tedious. And it kept raining which caused some problems. Overall, the week went really well. It never really seems like work when you are volunteering with Habitat because you know it is for a good cause. We also had a day off to check out the local flavor at Dreamland BBQ, where I had some of the best ribs of all time. We also went to the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute which I really enjoyed.
A deserving family with keys to their new home
The best part of the trip however took place on Friday morning. After touching up the house for two days, we got to see the house we were working on and two others given to their new owners. There are no words to describe the feeling of seeing a person getting the keys to their new home for the first time. The families were overjoyed and so proud to show off their new properties. I felt proud too, having taken part in such an event.
Planning a trip for 18 other people was stressful to say the least, but it was all worth it seeing the smiling families and the other people on the trip experiencing the joy of volunteering for the first time. Habitat is something that will definitely be a part of my life for a long time and I hope I can convince others of what a worthwhile cause it can be.

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