Tri-County Habitat for Humanity, Walla Walla, Washington
Our 2 week build in Walla Walla was a wonderful experience. To begin, we were working on a house with an awesome partner family: Dakota, Aleesha, and their 3-year old twins Karsyn and Gael-Lynn. Dakota and Aleesha were really cool people and their girls were so sweet and inquisitive. The second thing that made the build so great were our awesome Team Leaders, fellow Care-A-Vanner volunteers Bill and France who brought an incredible wealth of knowledge, experience, and additional tools that allowed us to not only make serious progress on the house but also gave us incredible learning opportunities. In addition to Bill and France we also worked with Paul and Barbara and the (also awesome!) Tri-County Construction Supervisor Luke.
Though there were only 3 Care-A-Vanner couples unlike the larger builds in Las Cruces and Sante Fe that I’m more accustomed to, I think we made some pretty great progress, finishing putting in the outlookers, sheathing, papering, and shingling the roof, putting up fascia and drip edge, wrapping the house, installing exterior doors, beginning siding, and a bunch of other smaller projects. Of course we had the help of Luke, and hours put in by Dakota and Aleesha, local volunteer Dave, Paul and Barbara’s son who stopped by to visit, as well as the amazing volunteers from Whitman College. We also had the support of some of the board members and another volunteer Lori who made sure we were very well fed and hydrated, the latter being really important since temperatures the first week were hovering around 99 degrees every day.
This was also a wonderful build for me personally. I originally began volunteering with Habitat in 2014 having zero construction experience and so every build continues to be an opportunity for me to gain skills and proficiency; I relish these learning experiences because it means that I can be more of an asset and basically just help more on future builds. In the 2 weeks in Walla Walla I worked on multiple tasks which I’ve never done before – which is always a great learning opportunity – but much of what I learned I owe to the previously-mentioned experience of Bill and France who owned their own construction business prior to retiring and volunteering with Habitat. Bill and France were both also willing to explain why we were doing things a certain way and take the time to help me learn new skills. They were truly glad to share their knowledge. This build was the first time I’ve worked on a roof for example: I’m really afraid of heights when I’m not standing on something steady and so making that step from the top of the extension ladder to the roof has up until now been been impossible for me. But they helped me get up there, giving me a literal hand up, and I spent part of 5 of the days working on the roof being taught how to paper and shingle. I have experienced this spirit of giving again and again working with other volunteers and construction supervisors (particularly Tom who has worked with me on every build), but I appreciate it just as much as I did on my first day.