Our group has worked hard today, it’s unbelievable what everyone’s put into these two homes. I’ll back track a little bit here but I wanted to get that out of the way.
Breakfast was cereal and bagels, plus a few fun surprises as everyone received a carptenter’s pencil, hot beverage to-go cup, and Home Depot tool pocket apron thing (you know what I’m talking about). Nate showed up just as adult chaperone Dave’s brother, Ken, who lives in Texas, showed with his tools in-hand to help us out this week. Ken brings our group up to sixteen (seventeen, if you count the Tom Tom GPS). We grabbed our gear and Nate lead our vehicles to our two worksites.
We arrived at the first home and Nate showed us all of our projects. Because there were not only more projects but more room we decided to put most of the group to work on that home (floors / walls / ceilings / water heater) while a small group of Pastor Kent, Jerry M., Ken, and Kelly M. went to the other house (bathroom / windows). I’m the only one who initially visited both so I could shoot some documentary footage, then Nate drove me back to the first home. On the way, I asked him about the neighborhood in terms of socio-economic levels and he said we were in a “medium” neighborhood but on the low side. He said there are worse neighborhoods around and that was powerful to hear, considering how much work there was to do in the neighborhood we’re working in today.
When I returned to the first home, people were already busy. Molly N., Molly D., Leah K., and Kelsey W. were scraping and sanding wall materials. “Drywall” Dave lead the charge in laying down a new faux-wood panel vinyl flooring for the bedroom, with Trevor N. and mother-son Team Stone helping out every step of the way. Steve C. taught Kristen H., Piper C., and me how to put “mud” on the ceiling – a sort of spackle coating to smooth out the ceiling’s nails and seams. Everyone was in high spirits as we worked, and conversation ran just as steady as floor was laid out and walls were sanded down.
Lunch was a tasty picnic on the porch filled with conversations of school and what they teach and what they don’t teach, plus tossing grapes at Pete so he could catch them in his mouth (a natural talent, for sure). We reached a point in the work that left room for only some members of our group to be of much service, so I drove a gaggle of girls to Target to pick up blankets for a few folks who ended up too cold last night. By the time we returned, it was time to do crown molding and primer painting, while my wife, Kelly, who had moved to the first house after lunch, was busy smashing nails into brand-new floor trim with the loudest nail gun I’ve ever heard in my life. She had a big smile on her face as she worked with the nail gun, too, confirming my theory that I can safely buy her power tools for birthdays, Christmas, and anniversaries and she’ll be happy (I still like getting The Simpsons stuff).
The work is hard and dirty but there isn’t one complainer in the bunch and everyone is doing a phenomenal job. Ohio Nate stopped by, took one look at the new vinyl bedroom floor we laid in, and praised us for an amazing job – something he says he rarely gets the chance to say. This really boosted our spirits and has us working even harder as a result. We’re hoping to finish up a few more pieces of important work so tomorrow we can disconnect the water heater and get that moved / fixed and turn this unfortunate house into something wonderful.
Other highlights include Piper C. slicing away with a hacksaw to make sure trimmings were the perfect size, Steve C. teaching Pete S. how to use his circular saw, the awesomeness that is Pete and my matching Kum & Go gas station t-shirts, Kelsey W. disagreeing with the concept lemon-flavored water (and also repeatedly accidentally saying we’re in Florida instead of Texas), Kristen proclaiming she had to “man up” and get over working near cockroaches, the first house accidentally taking both auxillary bags of fun lunch stuff like chips and Oreos, Ken bribing the first house with a 12-pack of Mountain Dew in exchange for a saw, Trevor and I desperately trying to lay down pieces of extra vinyl for Team Stone to set heavy furniture on before the dropped it, killing a mosquito and wiping it on Molly D’s shirt, Molly D. saying “Oh, absolutely!” in the most Minnesotan accent possible, and a gentleman driving by our group and stopping to let us know, in a perfect Texas accent, that, “What y’all are doing is tremendous, thank you so much.”
I’m heading back to the worksite after this blog post while Chris wraps up the finishing touches on tonight’s dinner, homemade chili. I believe tonight we’re breaking up into small groups to process the day and talk about tomorrow’s work, plus maybe a movie, definitely some more Great Dalmuti, Molly D. and I want to have a guitar / ukulele jam, and hopefully I’ll get word from Barry that we have the ability to post photos on the blog (and hopefully I find a way to get into the church library to blog again!).
Just in case I’m unable to blog tomorrow, we’re heading up to Beaumont, Texas for the Crockett Street New Year’s Eve party. It’s a street dance with live music, BBQ, jumbotrons to watch festivities in NYC, and more. Sounds like a blast, and many of our suburban youth have never been to a street dance before, so there’s some uniqueness to it.
P.S. I’m passing your comments on to the group, so keep them coming!