“She looks comfortable” muttered an Avera volunteer as her face grew increasingly more pale. Slowly she started pointing to a girl on top of narrow scaffolding fifteen feet above her in the air. The girl was walking like a squirrel across a power line, with little worry about how high up she was. “She better be, she does it all the time”, responded a laughing Molly Brown, the marketing coordinator for Voyage Federal Credit Union. The girl walking up top was Miranda Moss, Brown’s good friend and a staple (no pun intended)
volunteer at these builds for the past 3 years, donating her time and becoming more and more comfortable with the building process. Brown helps to recruit volunteers from 6 business partners of Voyage FCU. This is the fourth year that they have all joined forces and built homes for their community. Every month a different business takes charge of providing additional volunteers along with Voyage. In August this role was filled by Avera, with a large number of enthusiastic and helpful volunteers contributing their time and labor.
The builds this month primarily worked as an assembly line. Frequently in any form of construction a person will learn and become comfortable with a single step in a complex process. While it is difficult for a volunteer to learn every single step needed to build a house, frequent Habitat volunteers will often become highly skilled in helping to perform specific and vital tasks. Wednesday’s build featured volunteers using their skills and dividing their labor in a highly efficient and organized manner. One volunteer would be in charge of foam, one would stack foundation blocks, and another would be in charge of cleaning up after the other two. On Saturday the assembly line continued as the volunteers were in charge of finishing the walls. Breaking down complex tasks into manageable parts allowed our volunteers to not only practice important construction skills, but to get a great deal of work done in a short amount of time. At times it can be slow not knowing exactly how to do the next step in the process, but that simply offers a nice opportunity to talk with your temporary co-workers about their dogs or what the best Latin restaurant in Sioux Falls is (the correct answer is of course Jacky’s).
The weather was, as most South Dakota summer days go, hot and sticky. However, these volunteers are some of the most caring and genuine people you can find, so you forget the sawdust covered sweaty arms and giggle as you talk about burritos. For anyone that is hesitant to volunteer for Habitat, just remember that there is always room for volunteers that like power tools, cleaning with a broom, or simply learning a new skill. You may even discover that heights don’t make you that uncomfortable.