Building Homes, Rebuilding Lives: Three Days in April

Building Homes, Rebuilding Lives
Three Days in April
by William L. Bulla

Margaret Mead, noted anthropologist, once said, "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world: it's the only thing that ever has."
That's what's happening at Habitat for Humanity here in Washington County! That's what happened on three days in April! Three days when about 175 dedicated volunteers, some with building skills, others just with big hearts and willing hands, joined together to erect two homes!
Many of the volunteers were locals, but about 70 were "Road Trippers", those volunteers who pay their own way to travel away from their homes and help in Habitat builds. The leader of this group, and organizer of the local blitz build, was Tom Gerdy, a Lynchburg, VA. construction man.
In Tom Gerdy's words: " In three days we changed the physical landscape. Two homes were framed; had shingles on the roof; had rough wiring, plumbing and heat systems; were insulated; had most of the vinyl siding installed; front porches complete; and drywall hung in one of the homes."
Habitat for Humanity is thankful for the support it received from so many for this blitz build. Special thanks to First Data Merchant Services, The Housing Authority, The City of Hagerstown, Interfaith Housing Alliance, Community Action Council, Penrose Developers, Harkins Builders and the Building Inspectors for their help in making it possible.
There is more work needed on these two homes to complete the interiors. Some of the blitz build volunteers are still working, but at Habitat, volunteers are always needed for many tasks. Habitat volunteers contribute more than muscle. Creativity, strategy, and technical skills are among the many invaluable traits they bring to the organization. With a minimal staff, Habitat depends on volunteers of all types. Everyone reading this has some special skill to offer. Every individual has a unique gift to give to the community. Habitat offers opportunities to become directly involved. Volunteering for Habitat takes on many forms...working on a house, serving on the Board of Directors, raising funds, landscaping, donating funds or building materials, helping in the office, and many other tasks. If you would like to help out, call 301-791-9009.
America has a proud tradition of neighbor helping neighbor. Today, this spirit of volunteerism is needed more than ever before. It provides a way to be useful, help others and do good deeds in their own community. Working side-by-side with the family who will live in the house, our volunteers share in the excitement and joy the family gets from its dream of home ownership. That is expressed in Tom Gerdy's message to the volunteers "The world is a bit kinder and gentler place because of what happened on Vicki Drive. The big message, in what took place, is that the biggest rewards are those you receive, when you give. Remember this feeling as you continue moving the world just one step on."

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