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Article Archive >> Community

Building Homes, Rebuilding Lives! Habitat road trip a heart-warming event

Building Homes, Rebuilding Lives!
Habitat road trip a heart-warming event

I recently told you about a group of local Habitat for Humanity volunteers who planned to head for Alabama to aid Katrina victims. I have spoken to someone who made that trip, and want to share it with you.
"It was an exciting, heart-warming, rewarding trip," said Sherry Brown-Cooper, executive director of Habitat for Humanity of Washington County.
Brown-Cooper and a group of fifteen other local Habitat building committee volunteers traveled to Brewton, Alabama to blitz-build two Habitat houses May 6-9, 2006.
"It was a totally new experience for me," said Brown-Cooper. "This time I was a volunteer and participated more in the actual construction process. I hung siding, installed insulation and nailed drywall."
The group of volunteers from Habitat for Humanity of Washington County made the trip in a caravan of vehicles, driving the 925-miles in 16-hours. Upon arrival in Brewton, a town of 5,500 people, they became aware of the destruction from Hurricane Katrina.
The local people were so thrilled to see Habitat volunteers come into their town that they treated them royally. By local hotels, restaurants, churches and individuals donated their hotel rooms and meals. On Saturday evening the residents provided a pig roast and a band at a local park. The long line of out-of-state vehicles were given a police escort to the park.
The Washington County Habitat provided "Welcome Home" boxes filled with items to help get the families started in their new homes and to remember the Hagerstown volunteers. Items included Hagerstown T-shirts and coffee mugs, welcome mats, gardening tools, flower and vegetable seeds, home tool kits, family games, cook books and numerous other items.
The local volunteers joined a group calling themselves the "Road Trippers," a group of more than 50 persons from 10 states, ranges in age from 17 to around 80 years. They came from a variety of backgrounds. There were trades people, sales people, accountants, students, homemakers, engineers, small business owners, architects, and who knows what else. As diverse as the group was, they were bound together with a common quality, powerful hearts. They paid their own way and many used vacation time from work because they understood the magic that takes place when they all pitch in to do a "blitz build".
It gave them an opportunity to work, hand in hand, with families that needed some help building and repairing their homes after Katrina.
A blitz build has the tendency to bring out new volunteers, subcontractors, vendors, and donors. They have worked on builds in NC, SC, OH, WV, TX, CA, MD, and several locations in VA. With each build, they meet people who get the bug and want to travel with them.
In addition to working on the two homes constructed during the blitz build, several of our local volunteers found time to purchase shingles out-of-pocket and repair roofs of several homes in the area.
"It was a wonderful experience. I thanked the homeowners for the opportunity to help build their homes. I feel like I received more than I gave. Their homes were built with much love and compassion," said Brown-Cooper.
The local "Road Trippers" will do it again next spring. At this time they don't know just where they will be building, but they do know it will be another heart-warming experience.

William L. Bulla is a freelance writer residing in Washington County.

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