Friday, May 2, 2008

Habitat For Humanity

Affordable housing. It seems like such a basic right, but in this time of sub-prime crashes and foreclosures, it’s difficult to find an economical place to live. Rentals are available and abundant in a college town like Happy Valley. But if you’re not a student, have a family, or simply can’t afford the high cost of collegiate rentals, what can you do? Most people involved in the housing industry are asking that very question. PHFA just increased their Centre County allowances, and I heard they made statewide adjustments. The State College Borough also offers a great first time home buyers deal, if you qualify. And zoning is doing what it can to increase availability for lower to middle income families.

Take, for instance, the site where I found myself working yesterday. It is under commercial development, but zoning required the investors to set aside a portion of the land to include 10 duplex buildings. As of right now, Habitat for Humanity of Greater Centre County is working on two duplexes. Keller Williams Advantage Realty had about 18 volunteers between morning and afternoon shifts. Several of us stayed for the entire day. For the morning, my team was Ron Avillion, Carol Packard, Lorraine Spock, and myself. Our leader was a great guy named Lee, who you’ll get to meet in some of the following pictures. We were assigned to a wall building crew, working on studding a basement in Unit 2, in order to prep for dry wall. A corresponding crew worked in Unit 1, right next to us, finishing walls as well.

There were two other crews of our people working on siding and electrical. I missed all the electrical work, due to my own projects, but I did get a few pictures of Dawnyelle and Crystal, the siding masters!

When we got into the basement, it was easy to see we had some clean up to do before we could proceed. In unit 1, they were blessed with 8 inches of water from recent rains. Though we were on the second half of the same building, we weren’t nearly as flooded in Unit 2.

We cleaned out the supplies, swept up the water, and started building. We quickly determined that there wasn’t enough for 5 people to do, so Lorraine and Carol set to work on cleaning up outside, while Ron, Lee, and I stayed inside.

We had to attach a large piece of plywood to the wall, where the plumbing and electrical would reside for the washer and dryer in the unit. That thing was heavy! Ron and I held it up while Lee attached it to the frame.

We added some bracing to a few corners, in order to make things a bit easier on the drywallers. And we had to add 2X6’s to the ceiling, at 16 inch intervals, for the drywall ceiling to attach. It was really fun.

I did some drilling, circular sawing, hand sawing, hammering, lifting, and anything else Lee told me to.

Speaking of Lee, what a great guy! He comes out to the HfH site once a week, so that he can “get his fix.” He loves it. We were talking about some recent jobs and he told me about this single dad, living in a trailer with his wheelchair bound daughter. She couldn’t even turn her chair around inside the place. To go catch the bus, she had to be lifted out of the trailer. No independence at all. HfH placed them in one side of a duplex in Millheim.

“When she saw her new home,” Lee said, “the entire site got chills. Her smile was a mile wide. That’s why I do this.”

Did I already say he was a great guy?

Thanks to Ben Norman, for getting the ball rolling and for working so hard all day! Dude, I owe you a beer. Thanks to all the volunteers who came out to the site. We had a great time, didn't we?

A few extra pictures:


LIVIN said...

Good work.

Kelly - PTT said...

Look at you! That's so awesome to give back like that. I bet you felt totally good about it too. Great work!

auria cortes said...

Wow that's wonderful. A friend of mine went to Africa for Habitat for Humanity. Good stuff!

WendyCinNYC said...

Habitat for Humanity is such a great cause. I'm sure your work will make a family very happy.

Nice pictures, too!

Tina said...

I remember those houses from College days. We had a whole group that was devoted to it for Habitat. It was a great way to really give back, both to others and the community.

Thanks for shining a light on a great organization.

Angela said...

YOu should feel very proud of what you do. It always feels good to give back, and no matter what are skills are, there's always something we can do to help. I hope your posts inspire others to help out!


Sara Spock said...

Thank you all so much! I really love working with HfH. They're a great organization and the people are amazing. I'm just happy that I can help these families, even in my own small way.

Marilyn said...

I agree with Angela, you should be incredibly proud of what you do. You're helping to make the world a better place and making a difference in the life of a family that otherwise wouldn't have the opportunity to own a home.

Laurie Ashton said...

Habitat for Humanity has even made it into Sri Lanka. I don't remember how many houses they built to tsunami-devastated people - a dozen? A couple of dozen? Maybe more - I last read about it a year or two ago.

Anonymous said...

Sara, this was really inspirational. My hubby (an architect) and I would be interested in pursuing this (and heaven knows we've got the remodeling experience! :D).