Today was our last day of our spring break in New Orleans. I'm not even sure I can accurately describe how wonderful this experience has been. I've been on Habitat trips before, but this one was different. At our job site, led by a 23 year old Habitat construction leader, we saw a cinder block foundation and a maze of wooden frames become a house.
It's amazing the work that 50 college students can do. To everyone from UNCA who came on this trip, I am in complete awe of you guys. This week, I've seen students operating chop saws and circular saws, balancing on unstable beams 20 feet in the air, and nailing walls into place. We've all become masters at some task in homebuilding. I, personally, am a master shingle-er and truss secure-er. And to think, I was terrified to be on the top of an 8 foot ladder the first day. My mom would be horrified to know that my feet were on solid ground for only a total of about an hour every work day. But the sweat, the cold, the rain, the hammered thumbs, the splinters and the sunburn were utterly worth knowing that a family is going to have a home because of us and others like us.
Aaron, our leader, gave a speech at the end of the workday today that got me thinking (which, by the way, we had to practically tear people off the roof to get them to stop working). He was talking about this volunteer movement that we all seem to have been swept up in. Sure, many of the young adults in our generation are more focused on partying than working, but aside from our faculty supervisor, Greg, no one working at our site was over the age of 25. That is amazing. The youth of our generation are active, are sympathetic, are energetic and eager to help and make a difference. What more can you really ask for?
I guess to close it all out, I have to say that this is not an ending. Many of us are already searching for the time to make our own trip down here, (Camp Hope is not just for school groups! Come down and bring your friends for 22 dollars a night!!!). As I write this from the Camp Hope hangout room, I see other students on spring break just arriving and preparing for a week of work. What they don't know yet, however, is that in the process of getting down and dirty in the Louisiana sun, they are going to be directly changing someone's life. That being said, for everyone reading this, please keep our homeowner, Julius, in your thoughts and prayers because in a few weeks, after two and a half years of waiting, he and his family will be moving into a house -- their house -- and I am absolutely honored to have helped.
P.s. I have to say a special thank you to Greg, our faculty supervisor. You were such a wonderful and positive influence on this trip. Your support at the worksite, at camp and downtown did not go unnoticed or unappreciated by anyone. Thank you.