Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Habitat for Humanity

Soon we will be leaving Naples (Florida) and heading back to Lake Gaston (North Carolina), so we've been going through a whole lot of "last time for this season" moments - last visit to Barnes & Noble (back in NC, the nearest one is 80 miles away), last visit to Baskin-Robbins (we don't have one of those either and I'm addicted to their chocolate chip ice cream) and soon the loss of our high-speed internet service (also, not available where we live, and this I will really miss).

We've also worked our last Monday of the season for Habitat for Humanity of Collier County. And like last year, I'm just amazed at what has been accomplished. Before we left, I counted 48 houses (completed or in process) that have gone up in Immokalee since we started there in January. The Collier County (south Florida) branch is the largest Habitat for Humanity affilliate in the world and I think that they are on schedule to complete their 1000th house next year.

My husband and I have really enjoyed volunteering there, and I think we went every Monday except the one in January when it was only 30F degrees (we're wimps when it comes to cold weather). Normally each Monday when we arrived at the site, a few more foundations would have been poured since the previous week and there would be about 8 to 10 houses in various stages of completion. We would usually have our choice of jobs and usually chose painting or floor tiling.

A few weeks ago there was some delay in the county's permitting process which caused houses to be completed faster than new foundations could be poured. We arrived one Monday (a bit late as usual) and there were about 100 volunteers with only 3 houses to be worked on. We wandered around looking for work and found that the volunteers who had arrived earlier (which was almost everybody) were fiercely protective of the little jobs that they found. Typically our short conversations with the other volunteers went like this: (Us) "Do you need any help?" (Them) "No, we've got things covered here". We were quite discouraged and about ready to give up and head home when we ran into a supervisor who found a job for us. Not much, but we were thrilled to be able to look useful.
We had been at it for about 10 minutes when another volunteer (who had actually arrived later than us) came over and asked "Do you need any help?" My husband turned to him and said "No, I think we've got it covered here." What??? Did he forget how unwanted we had felt just 20 minutes ago when nobody wanted our help? I glared at my husband and told the new arrival "Sure, we could use some help." Consequently, we finished the work in no time, spent lots of time at coffee break, then I wandered around with my camera snapping photos.

Above: coffee break
Below: some of the completed houses

Below: Grandfather / Grandson volunteers:

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