Mesilla Valley Habitat for Humanity 2016, Part 2

As amazing as the organization is and as much as I believe in the mission, it’s truly the people involved with Habitat that make it so wonderful: all the homeowners, Paula and Maria in the office, Pete and Dyana on the construction site, and fellow Care-A-Vanners, local volunteers, and corporate and collegiate groups that come on Saturdays. As I mentioned in my previous post, the people at the Mesilla Valley affiliate take extraordinary good care of us, helping us find whatever we need, collecting our mail, arranging social dinners and barbecues, checking in to make sure we’re comfortable, etc. On the job site you could not ask for a better team then Pete, the construction supervisor, and Dyana, the construction assistant and team leader. They go over the tasks for the day thoroughly, offer detailed instruction, are very concerned with safety, and are always on hand for questions and repeating instructions. Their willingness to do the latter is particularly valuable to me since I tend to require a lot of instruction and have more follow-up questions than nearly all of the seasoned Care-A-Vanners. The patience they have for re-instruction and the repetition of procedures is nothing short of amazing.

Finally, I can’t say enough good things about the other volunteers. It was a very happy surprise to learn that I’d be working with many of the same people in the first 2 week build as I had in 2014. Lowell and Gwen, Mary Jo and Harvey, and Tony and Mary are some of the nicest people I’ve ever met, and are all truly delightful to work alongside. And the people I was meeting for the first time on each of the 4 builds were equally kind, helpful, and positive. Many of these folks have been doing Habitat for years and were always ready and willing to help me, lend a hand, explain what we were working on, and arrive at just the right moment to help screw in a sheet of drywall that we might be struggling to hold in place. I am particularly grateful to Tony who took me under his wing my first 3 weeks and had the patience to teach and explain things to me as many times as I needed. I can’t go through everyone by name (since we worked with about 40 different people over the course of 8 weeks) but my experience would not have been nearly as good without them.

 Lowell, Hans, Tony, and I watching construction supervisor Pete adjust a persnickety door, Mesilla Valley Habitat for Humanity, Las Cruces, New Mexico

Lowell, Hans, Tony, and I watching construction supervisor Pete adjust a persnickety door, Mesilla Valley Habitat for Humanity, Las Cruces, New Mexico

Mary Jo and I putting up drywall, Mesilla Valley Habitat for Humanity, Las Cruces, New Mexico. Photo by Mac Fell.

Mary Jo and I putting up drywall, Mesilla Valley Habitat for Humanity, Las Cruces, New Mexico. Photo by Mac Fell.

Tony and I raising drywall, Mesilla Valley Habitat for Humanity, Las Cruces, New Mexico. Photo by Mac Fell.

Tony and I raising drywall, Mesilla Valley Habitat for Humanity, Las Cruces, New Mexico. Photo by Mac Fell.

In our 8 weeks at Mesilla Valley Tom and I had the chance to be a part of so many aspects of construction, providing a great deal of variety in tasks as well as opportunities to reinforce the skills I had learned. With 4 houses being built concurrently there were ample opportunities to bounce around between activities and bounce we did – from painting to grouting to drywall to cabinet installation to door hanging to tiling… and back. The houses seemed to be approximately 2 weeks apart from each other in terms of completion (though they would be finished at roughly the same time) which meant that I had the ability to work on a few things in multiple houses, allowing me to practice and refine (I use that word lightly) my new-found skills. For example, I painted, drywalled, and tiled in 3 houses and hung doors in 2 houses. In each of these tasks I became proficient enough over time to help other volunteers and in some instances give instruction. The opportunity to answer others’ questions and provide assistance – and to increase my knowledge by doing so – was a tremendously rewarding by-product of volunteering.

I won’t catalog all the things I worked on and learned, but I do want to mention how much I enjoyed working on many of the things, especially tiling, cabinet installation, and also drywalling. But while there were no tasks that I actively disliked, I wouldn’t be honest if I didn’t write about my recurring frustration during the 8 weeks as I attempted to do the highest quality work possible. I struggled with feelings of self-annoyance more than once a day on site, and for as much patience as others had with me, I couldn’t help but to feel frustrated at my inabilities to do things correctly or do them well. Thankfully Pete puts an emphasis on quality construction and doing it right over accomplishing things quickly, but even so I felt incapable and inept constantly as my mistakes had to be corrected and I had to ask for help the 5th and 6th times. Under other circumstances I would have been more patient – and I guess, compassionate – with myself but I want(ed) so much to be able to contribute to building these homes that self-doubt and frustration would arise as I struggled to accomplish things at a higher standard. I would like to say I learned to successfully navigate this internal battle that happens whenever I have to do anything that I both value and am not good at, but there’s a petulant 6 year old inside my brain somewhere that can’t always be silenced, particularly when faced with multiple challenges that fall under the umbrella of Stuff-I-Suck-At. However, when it comes to most of this kind of stuff I refuse to let my brain prevent me from trying at the very least, and in volunteering for such a fantastic organization as Habitat for Humanity, I have more than enough motivation to continue learning and doing. And so, despite my internal frustration, I had a wonderful experience – one I am truly thankful for and look forward to repeating soon.

See you next year, Mesilla Valley Habitat!

First day is a painting day! Mesilla Valley Habitat for Humanity, Las Cruces, New Mexico

First day is a painting day! Mesilla Valley Habitat for Humanity, Las Cruces, New Mexico

Tom and Lowell painting, Mesilla Valley Habitat for Humanity, Las Cruces, New Mexico

Tom and Lowell painting, Mesilla Valley Habitat for Humanity, Las Cruces, New Mexico

Kit, Harvey, Tony, Tom, and Jerry finagling a piece of sheetrock, Mesilla Valley Habitat for Humanity, Las Cruces, New Mexico

Kit, Harvey, Tony, Tom, and Jerry finagling a piece of sheetrock, Mesilla Valley Habitat for Humanity, Las Cruces, New Mexico

Jerry and I screwing drywall in, Mesilla Valley Habitat for Humanity, Las Cruces, New Mexico

Jerry and I screwing drywall in, Mesilla Valley Habitat for Humanity, Las Cruces, New Mexico

Mary Jo smiling while cleaning tiles after grouting, Mesilla Valley Habitat for Humanity, Las Cruces, New Mexico

Mary Jo smiling while cleaning tiles after grouting, Mesilla Valley Habitat for Humanity, Las Cruces, New Mexico

Views while hanging drip edge, Mesilla Valley Habitat for Humanity, Las Cruces, New Mexico

Views while hanging drip edge, Mesilla Valley Habitat for Humanity, Las Cruces, New Mexico

Views while hanging drip edge, Mesilla Valley Habitat for Humanity, Las Cruces, New Mexico

Views while hanging drip edge, Mesilla Valley Habitat for Humanity, Las Cruces, New Mexico

Tony trimming OSB before we install drip edge, Mesilla Valley Habitat for Humanity, Las Cruces, New Mexico

Tony trimming OSB before we install drip edge, Mesilla Valley Habitat for Humanity, Las Cruces, New Mexico

Tony and I screwing in bullnose trim around bathroom window, Mesilla Valley Habitat for Humanity, Las Cruces, New Mexico

Tony and I screwing in bullnose trim around bathroom window, Mesilla Valley Habitat for Humanity, Las Cruces, New Mexico

Brenda chop sawing brackets for the closets, Mesilla Valley Habitat for Humanity, Las Cruces, New Mexico

Brenda chop sawing brackets for the closets, Mesilla Valley Habitat for Humanity, Las Cruces, New Mexico

Getting ready to chalk our line for hanging drywall on the ceiling, Mesilla Valley Habitat for Humanity, Las Cruces, New Mexico

Getting ready to chalk our line for hanging drywall on the ceiling, Mesilla Valley Habitat for Humanity, Las Cruces, New Mexico

A quick selfie in the midst of sheetrocking, Mesilla Valley Habitat for Humanity, Las Cruces, New Mexico

A quick selfie in the midst of sheetrocking, Mesilla Valley Habitat for Humanity, Las Cruces, New Mexico

Tony and a day volunteer cutting drywall, Mesilla Valley Habitat for Humanity, Las Cruces, New Mexico

Tony and a day volunteer cutting drywall, Mesilla Valley Habitat for Humanity, Las Cruces, New Mexico

Harvey and Kit hanging soffit, Mesilla Valley Habitat for Humanity, Las Cruces, New Mexico

Harvey and Kit hanging soffit, Mesilla Valley Habitat for Humanity, Las Cruces, New Mexico

Hans and Tony cutting drywall, Mesilla Valley Habitat for Humanity, Las Cruces, New Mexico

Hans and Tony cutting drywall, Mesilla Valley Habitat for Humanity, Las Cruces, New Mexico

Tom and Construction Supervisor Pete having fun drywalling, Mesilla Valley Habitat for Humanity, Las Cruces, New Mexico

Tom and Construction Supervisor Pete having fun drywalling, Mesilla Valley Habitat for Humanity, Las Cruces, New Mexico

Installing drywall, Mesilla Valley Habitat for Humanity, Las Cruces, New Mexico

Installing drywall, Mesilla Valley Habitat for Humanity, Las Cruces, New Mexico

Tom and John installing cabinets in House 1, Mesilla Valley Habitat for Humanity, Las Cruces, New Mexico

Tom and John installing cabinets in House 1, Mesilla Valley Habitat for Humanity, Las Cruces, New Mexico

Pantry brackets, Mesilla Valley Habitat for Humanity, Las Cruces, New Mexico

Pantry brackets, Mesilla Valley Habitat for Humanity, Las Cruces, New Mexico

Judith and Rick doing trim, Mesilla Valley Habitat for Humanity, Las Cruces, New Mexico

Judith and Rick doing trim, Mesilla Valley Habitat for Humanity, Las Cruces, New Mexico

Tony and I installing closet doors, Mesilla Valley Habitat for Humanity, Las Cruces, New Mexico

Tony and I installing closet doors, Mesilla Valley Habitat for Humanity, Las Cruces, New Mexico

Sheetrocking the ceiling, Mesilla Valley Habitat for Humanity, Las Cruces, New Mexico

Sheetrocking the ceiling, Mesilla Valley Habitat for Humanity, Las Cruces, New Mexico

Tom screwing in strips of sheetrock around bedroom closet, Mesilla Valley Habitat for Humanity, Las Cruces, New Mexico

Tom screwing in strips of sheetrock around bedroom closet, Mesilla Valley Habitat for Humanity, Las Cruces, New Mexico

Using scrap to get my dimensions right for ceiling sheetrock with 3 door cutouts, Mesilla Valley Habitat for Humanity, Las Cruces, New Mexico

Using scrap to get my dimensions right for ceiling sheetrock with 3 door cutouts, Mesilla Valley Habitat for Humanity, Las Cruces, New Mexico

Shingle delivery on the roof of the houses on the other street, Mesilla Valley Habitat for Humanity, Las Cruces, New Mexico

Shingle delivery on the roof of the houses on the other street, Mesilla Valley Habitat for Humanity, Las Cruces, New Mexico

Another painting day, Mesilla Valley Habitat for Humanity, Las Cruces, New Mexico

Another painting day, Mesilla Valley Habitat for Humanity, Las Cruces, New Mexico

Hans on our first day tiling, Mesilla Valley Habitat for Humanity, Las Cruces, New Mexico

Hans on our first day tiling, Mesilla Valley Habitat for Humanity, Las Cruces, New Mexico

Me mixing thinset for tiling, Mesilla Valley Habitat for Humanity, Las Cruces, New Mexico

Me mixing thinset for tiling, Mesilla Valley Habitat for Humanity, Las Cruces, New Mexico

Linda and Loretta tiling the kitchen, Mesilla Valley Habitat for Humanity, Las Cruces, New Mexico

Linda and Loretta tiling the kitchen, Mesilla Valley Habitat for Humanity, Las Cruces, New Mexico

Me tiling House 2, Mesilla Valley Habitat for Humanity, Las Cruces, New Mexico

Me tiling House 2, Mesilla Valley Habitat for Humanity, Las Cruces, New Mexico

Linda wet-sawing tile, Mesilla Valley Habitat for Humanity, Las Cruces, New Mexico

Linda wet-sawing tile, Mesilla Valley Habitat for Humanity, Las Cruces, New Mexico

Kitchen just about completed in first house, Mesilla Valley Habitat for Humanity, Las Cruces, New Mexico

Kitchen just about completed in first house, Mesilla Valley Habitat for Humanity, Las Cruces, New Mexico

Hanging doors in second house, Mesilla Valley Habitat for Humanity, Las Cruces, New Mexico

Hanging doors in second house, Mesilla Valley Habitat for Humanity, Las Cruces, New Mexico

Impromptu photo shoot of Deborah posing while painting trim, Mesilla Valley Habitat for Humanity, Las Cruces, New Mexico

Impromptu photo shoot of Deborah posing while painting trim, Mesilla Valley Habitat for Humanity, Las Cruces, New Mexico

Hanging sliding bedroom closet doors, Mesilla Valley Habitat for Humanity, Las Cruces, New Mexico

Hanging sliding bedroom closet doors, Mesilla Valley Habitat for Humanity, Las Cruces, New Mexico

Tom doing touchups, Mesilla Valley Habitat for Humanity, Las Cruces, New Mexico

Tom doing touchups, Mesilla Valley Habitat for Humanity, Las Cruces, New Mexico

At Mesilla Valley Habitat the saying goes, “On painting day, everyone paints!” The alternate caption is “Abby paints with her face.”

At Mesilla Valley Habitat the saying goes, “On painting day, everyone paints!” The alternate caption is “Abby paints with her face.”

Rosalie painting shelving, Mesilla Valley Habitat for Humanity, Las Cruces, New Mexico

Rosalie painting shelving, Mesilla Valley Habitat for Humanity, Las Cruces, New Mexico

Kathy tiling, Mesilla Valley Habitat for Humanity, Las Cruces, New Mexico

Kathy tiling, Mesilla Valley Habitat for Humanity, Las Cruces, New Mexico

Wet-sawing tile, Mesilla Valley Habitat for Humanity, Las Cruces, New Mexico

Wet-sawing tile, Mesilla Valley Habitat for Humanity, Las Cruces, New Mexico

Everybody grouts – the fun way (= the messy way), Mesilla Valley Habitat for Humanity, Las Cruces, New Mexico

Everybody grouts – the fun way (= the messy way), Mesilla Valley Habitat for Humanity, Las Cruces, New Mexico

Running chalk lines prior to tiling House 4, Mesilla Valley Habitat for Humanity, Las Cruces, New Mexico

Running chalk lines prior to tiling House 4, Mesilla Valley Habitat for Humanity, Las Cruces, New Mexico

Kathy tiling in the utility room, Mesilla Valley Habitat for Humanity, Las Cruces, New Mexico

Kathy tiling in the utility room, Mesilla Valley Habitat for Humanity, Las Cruces, New Mexico

Me tiling House 4, Mesilla Valley Habitat for Humanity, Las Cruces, New Mexico

Me tiling House 4, Mesilla Valley Habitat for Humanity, Las Cruces, New Mexico

Leveling base cabinets, Mesilla Valley Habitat for Humanity, Las Cruces, New Mexico

Leveling base cabinets, Mesilla Valley Habitat for Humanity, Las Cruces, New Mexico

Me drilling holes to screw in spacers for kitchen cabinets, Mesilla Valley Habitat for Humanity, Las Cruces, New Mexico

Me drilling holes to screw in spacers for kitchen cabinets, Mesilla Valley Habitat for Humanity, Las Cruces, New Mexico

Me screwing spacers onto cabinets, Mesilla Valley Habitat for Humanity, Las Cruces, New Mexico

Me screwing spacers onto cabinets, Mesilla Valley Habitat for Humanity, Las Cruces, New Mexico

Tom installing upper cabinets, Mesilla Valley Habitat for Humanity, Las Cruces, New Mexico

Tom installing upper cabinets, Mesilla Valley Habitat for Humanity, Las Cruces, New Mexico

Sittin' on a ladder, installing upper cabinet doors, Mesilla Valley Habitat for Humanity, Las Cruces, New Mexico

Sittin’ on a ladder, installing upper cabinet doors, Mesilla Valley Habitat for Humanity, Las Cruces, New Mexico

Me touching up cabinets with stain, Mesilla Valley Habitat for Humanity, Las Cruces, New Mexico

Me touching up cabinets with stain, Mesilla Valley Habitat for Humanity, Las Cruces, New Mexico

The two Toms installing the kitchen counter in House 2, Mesilla Valley Habitat for Humanity, Las Cruces, New Mexico

The two Toms installing the kitchen counter in House 2, Mesilla Valley Habitat for Humanity, Las Cruces, New Mexico