Build day in Asheville

Day 13: I spent the day working on building the first wall at a home in Asheville with their Habitat for Humanity chapter. Since they couldn’t accommodate our whole group at one site, we split up our group and I worked with Sarah, Meg, Meegan, Dietlinde, Aaron, Daniel, Sam, Lo, and Emerson.

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The site where we got to work was beautiful! The mountains were surrounding us and it was a bright, sunny day. The goal for the day was to finish building one wall because a “Wall Raising Ceremony” was scheduled for that evening with the future owners of the house! We were directed by a wonderful Habitat construction leader named John, who we all agreed did just the right amount of directing and supervising. Sometimes at these sites, the leaders are overbearing, and you feel like you’re not able to help out as much as you’d like to. John would give us very specific directions and then leave us to complete the job on our own, and we really appreciated his awesome leadership! Not to mention, he provided us with coffee in the morning, which is becoming quite the commodity on this trip!!

Our lunch was the most delicious lunch we’ve had yet! A woman named Stephanie, who is the Habitat volunteer coordinator, brought us burritos from a place called Mamacita’s! If you were wondering, mine was a veggie burrito that had sweet potato, kale, rice, tomato, and beans. SO GOOD!! If I had to describe Stephanie, I would say she is the Kelly Ripa of Asheville: petite, adorable, and energetic. As we pulled up to the worksite in our van, we found her sitting cross legged on the floor of the house wearing high-heels. Her hospitality was phenomenal and thanks to her, it was the best build day yet! She brought us Earth Fare pizza and salad (for those of you who don’t know, Earth Fare is a organic/natural food lover’s dream grocery store) the night we arrived in Asheville. Then she brought us those burritos for lunch and promised that she’d be back in the afternoon with popsicles. This is her and her daughter:

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I know I keep talking about lunch (food is a popular topic with this group) but it was just so great in so many ways that I’m going to continue with it. We had a “special guest” come visit us at the build site. Meg’s family friends, Steve and Martha Parks, whom she’s known for years were on a road trip and they just happened to be in Asheville at the same time we were! This couple is SO cool! They are both retired teachers who spend months traveling the US in either an old bus or van that they’ve converted into sort of an RV. Parks (that’s what people call Steve) helped us on the job site and brought instruments with him, which was PERFECT because we happened to have two very talented musicians on site: Aaron played the banjo and Emerson played the fiddle. The combination of a delicious lunch, a beautiful day, mountains surrounding us, great friends, and musical entertainment added up to pure happiness.

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At one point, Stephanie noticed a certain look on my face and asked “is everything okay? You look like you’re just having a moment…” (I think this was directly after she said she was going to come back with popsicles and ice cream later). I just said “I just don’t deserve any of this. This is incredible!” So much happiness in one moment that I didn’t even know what to do with myself. This whole trip, I’ve been blown away by the hospitality of others that recognize what we’re trying to do and want to support us along our journey. I’m learning from their generosity and I will certainly seek opportunities to pay it forward.

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At the end of the day, sponsors of the build site and Asheville Habitat for Humanity employees came to the site to witness the “Wall Raising Ceremony” for the family that will move in once the house is complete. I think it’s pretty cool how this Habitat chapter celebrates the steps in building a new affordable home for a family in need. The fact that my teammates and I got to build that wall together and then raise it up with the family is something that I will cherish forever.

After a long, hard day of work, Parks and Martha took Meg, Sarah, Daniel, Aaron and I out to a brewery called The Wedge which had a great outdoor patio and great beer! It was awesome getting to hear more about their life stories and where they liked to travel to (mostly places with great music scenes!). After we said our goodbyes and thank you’s to the sweet couple, we headed down to downtown Asheville for a bit and then caught a cab home. It was my favorite build day yet! I’m glad that I’m starting to feel a little more comfortable on the construction site, but I know I still have a lot to learn.

I will end this blog with a photo I took of Daniel jumping mid-air, while Aaron very inaccurately tries to measure with his hand just how high he jumped. We’re just a bunch of big kids who like to ride bikes, play, and hammer things.

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