The Need For a Home

A reflection on volunteer work for Habitat for Humanity

Some of the houses on the Habitat for Humanity site

During my Freshman College Summer Experience here at UGA, we have had classes that go beyond the classroom. One of these classes is Professor Simrill’s UNIV1103S class in which we work on our writing, but also perform service learning. The service learning represents going out and volunteering to help serve in the community. Our service learning project was to go help Habitat for Humanity at their site by doing many different volunteer tasks for them.

Day 1 — The Ditch

Day one was a day in which I got to understand the feel of what would be happening during our service learning project. Cade and I had trouble finding the place at first. Good thing we left a few minutes early because we ended up showing up at the perfect time after eventually finding the place. I was not very optimistic the first day. I had a speech due for Public Speaking after the service learning and I was up all-night working on it before day one. I was exhausted and not looking forward to working.

No one wants to dig a ditch, especially if you are worn out from the night before. The ditch was intended to be 1 and a half feet wide and 1 and a half feet deep. After continuous digging, we were “thrilled” to find out that we had to make it a least an inch wider and an inch deeper. The four of us were dead tired from grinding with the shovels in between houses.

Digging the rainwater ditch in between houses

Day 2 — Shingles

Day two started off just like the first. I was tired again from working on a speech the night before. This time I knew what kind of work we would be doing and how hard it was going to be. Last time, I dug a trench in between two of the houses, but this time I chose to do something different. This time i was working inside the houses taking our the roof so that they could replace it with a new one. Seems pretty easy, but it was even harder than the ditch digging. We used power saws to cut through the wood and sawdust got all over us. This job turned into a messy one very quick. My arm was covered with black sawdust that fell from the ceiling as we ripped through the wood. What seemed easy turned into a miserable, messy experience.

Day 3 — The Recovery Day

Day three turned out to be the best day. This time I did not have to write a speech the night before and I was ready to go. Due to the fact I was not so tired, I was able to get much more done in a short amount of time. I moved a bunch of trash bags and concrete to a large dumpster with the help of others as well. We all knew this would be our last day at the site so we made every moment count while we worked. The work I did on the last day felt like a recovery day compared to the suffering I experienced on the prior two Thursdays at the site.

We ended up capturing great photos and videos from the site on the last day that summed up our entire experience with the people at the Habitat for Humanity site. The hard work was finally finished. After the last trash bag was moved and it was time to go, I was relieved.

A view of the site from the street

The Aftermath

A few days later I began to think about the work we had done in the three days in which we were there. As a group, we painted almost all the houses, took out all the trash, fixed the roofs, pressure washed the houses, and even dug a large trench all the way to the street to protect the houses from rainwater that flowed in between houses. Looking back, I realized the purpose of the entire service learning project. We, as one group, were able to help the men who work for Habitat for Humanity perform jobs that would have taken them a very long time. We finished a weeks’ worth of work in the three days that we were there. This impacted me greatly. Knowing that I helped to provide homes for those who need them is a great feeling. Once I felt that feeling, I realized the purpose of the service learning. I know that I am not the only one in the group that feels this way. If I could go back, I would not change a thing. Although it was miserable at the time, it was worth every second of it. I hope the men at Habitat for Humanity realize that I appreciate them just as much as they appreciate our participation at their site. From this experience, I am ready to participate in many other volunteer opportunities around the community.

Simrill’s Army
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