Years ago, as part of the East Hampton Junior Women's Club, I was part of the crew who helped with the Habitat for Humanity build on a house near Lake Pocotopaug in my town. Members of our club came in to help with spreading topsoil and planting shrubs. As someone who appreciates manual labor, I loved it. I love working on projects and that feeling of satisfaction when the work is done. (Remember we gutted our house to the studs after we bought it?) As a Realtor, I'd wanted to volunteer again the next time Habitat planned a build in our community.
It took years, but finally Habitat announced another project in East Hampton, and I reached out to the volunteer coordinator to ask to put a team from my brokerage, Carl Guild & Associates, on the schedule. My broker Carl is awesome, and was completely on board. One of our core values is our commitment to our communities.
Our projects that day started with scraping, vacuuming and cleaning every inch of the concrete floor in anticipation of laying down the vinyl plank flooring and the tiled bathrooms. We must have gone over every room multiple times. The floating floor was a bit of a challenge at first, even for the contractors who had to figure out the exact way to lay it without chipping or breaking any of the edges.
Carl had a catered lunch brought in not just for our team, but for all of the Habitat crew as well, which I thought was a really nice touch. We have a great Italian deli (D'Eliana's Market) next door to our office and they made up delicious sandwiches!
I appreciated that our crew just seemed to know where to jump in! One agent picked out the pattern of the flooring, while another helped the contractors lay it. Two agents jumped into the bathroom tiling work. Two more helped with trimwork and caulking around the windows. Two of us (myself included!) were taught to use the saws - I was on a radial arm saw cutting flooring planks to size, while the other was on the table saw. Two or 3 agents worked together using scrap wood to build a planter that would go on to be sold at the Habitat for Humanity ReStore. We moved boxes, trash, doors, papered the finished parts of the floors to protect them...the day flew by!
Since the interior doors had not been hung yet, we were able to see where previous volunteers had written blessings and messages for the new homeowner and her family right on the studs & wood framing, and we're sure there were more throughout the house that were already behind walls. I think that's kind of a neat thing...the way people used to bless hearth stones or cornerstones of homes. I don't know if anyone does that anymore. When we took down the horsehair plaster in our house we found where Fred Skinner the plumber had signed his name in our wall near some pipes, which could not have been original to 1900. Since Grandma Rose who lived with us knew her, we invited his widow over for coffee to see it, but she didn't seem particularly excited about it. Maybe Fred got a laugh out of writing his name in houses all over town.
We captured our day with Habitat for Humanity in a video you can watch here! If you get a chance to volunteer with them, even if you don't feel you have a particular skill set, I recommend you do it. There's plenty of work they can teach you, and plenty of good you can do not only at Habitat, but every day out in your local communities!