Saturday, February 11, 2017

The Second Time Around

Fellsmere's Care-A-Vanners, local volunteers and homeowners

When we began our life on the road last January, our very first Habitat for Humanity build was at Fellsmere, FL.

Chuck & Judy

That was such a positive experience that when Chuck and Judy, our team leaders from a year ago, notified us that a 2017 reunion of the same Care-A-Vanners was planned, Tim and I immediately signed up.  And you know what?  This second time around has been even better than the first.

January 2016 and 2017

For starters, it was inspiring to enter the Habitat for Humanity subdivision in Fellsmere and see the five homes we had left in various states of completion now finished with families dwelling in each.

Midway through nailing up siding

Then, there was the confirmation of how much my construction skills have grown over the course of the eight Habitat builds I've done.  This time when I joined the siding squad, I could competently use a hammer, hitting the nail--instead of my thumb--on its head nine times out of ten.

Clockwise from upper left: Sue, Marty and Judy, me and Marty

I knew the steps to precisely measuring, cutting and nailing up hardy boards, those planks composed of wood fiber and cement.  

Sue, Judy, me and Marty

After all, Judy, Marty, Sue and I had done this job a year ago, albeit inexpertly in my case.  This time we worked together smoothly, almost intuitively, finishing the siding on a whole house within a week.  When we moved on to install the windows on another house, our teamwork enabled us to make quick work of that, too.

In a way, the people in this group of Care-A-Vanners have mentored and encouraged us to stick with it.   They initiated us into what it means to do things the Habitat way, taking what we've learned in turn, to teach the next volunteer we encounter.  And that's just what I did at Fort Myers last spring break and just three weeks ago at Delray Beach.  I helped college students complete the jobs assigned by the site supervisor which was very gratifying.

Clockwise from upper left: Elizabeth, Diana, Bennie, Judy, Esther, Maria and Ezequiel

This time around I've made more of an effort to learn the names and stories of the prospective homeowners.  On Saturdays, we worked alongside the home buyers who gave up a day of their weekend to work instead of resting from their demanding jobs as laborers, landscapers, waitresses and maids.  


Last Saturday, we raised the trusses on Sharon's home


effectively giving shape to the shell of her house.  

Sharon's house

Knowing that this single mom and art instructor now has hope for her future is rewarding.

So in a way, I feel like we've come full circle by this return to Fellsmere.  We've completed this year's cycle and are enthusiastic about committing ourselves to future Habitat builds.


  1. Wonderful recap! What a gift to return and build with Habitat friends! Love our community of Habitat friends!

  2. Yes, it was a terrific time! Habitat builds have introduced us to such great people, you & Doug included!

  3. Congratulations! What fun to meet up with the same crew that have become good friends. And good for you on your construction skills ~ I'd take 9 out of 10 times missing my thumb any day!

  4. I'm sure it was great to see your friends and to come full circle at the start of a new year. Blessings as you continue this wonderful ministry. Who knows what other great construction skills you'll pick up this year!