Three days in the life

How Habitat for Humanity affected me

Using the Mattock to break up dirt

My first day in University 1103s, I had no idea what to expect. I was sure I was going to have to do some school work, maybe write a paper or two, no big deal. Little did I know my University teacher was going to require me to do community service. Like most college kids, this bummed me out. However, I was willing to make the best of it and use it as an opportunity to get to know my classmates.

The first day, I was still slightly skeptical. It looked like it was going to be a massive amount of work. The lawns of the houses were trashed from years of neglect along with the excessive amount of debris that had collected. Nonetheless, I began to work diligently alongside my fellow students to make the house more appealing. I was given the first job of whacking down the weeds in the back yard with another student named Phillip. Phillip was one of the two German students that had been volunteering throughout the whole year with Athens Habitat for Humanity. He talked about all the great things that he had learned from Habitat for Humanity, and how rewarding it was when a job was finished. I was steadily whacking down the massive weeds with what in my home town we call a “Bush Ax”. It’s a long-handled tool that has a curved blade like a machete on the end. It was honestly kind of fun to see how much you were able to cut down and then later look back at all of the progress along the back of the houses. It gives you a sense of fulfillment. When we finished, our class time was over and I bid adieu to Phillip and told him I’d see him next week.

Classmates and myself digging the trench

Day two was much more rigorous. I had an early meeting and had gotten very little sleep. I still went there with my best attitude and tried to work hard for the program. Sadly, I was put to work digging. However, I did have the pleasure to meet and hang out with the second German volunteer Miro. He helped us with the digging. He told us what we needed to do and where to unload all the dirt we were moving. He had obviously done this kind of work before. The work was less noticeable and a whole lot harder. However, I still felt like I was helping and the director continued to encourage us by telling us how great everything looked. After two hours, the work was still not finished, but we made a lot of progress. One more hard session of digging and we felt confident that the work was just the way the directors wanted it. We exchanged goodbyes with all the workers and headed our separate ways feeling tired but with a greater sense of accomplishment.

Me moving a wheel barrow up the hill

Day 3 was a whole lot better than day 2. I began by moving broken concrete pieces into the dumpster. This was a short task only taking around 30 minutes, so nothing major. Then, I began to dig again. We were trying to finish the trench that we had started the week before. We moved a massive amount of dirt using the mattock. The dirt had become so hard over the three weeks we had been working, so the mattock was a tremendous help. It also helped to chop up any roots remaining after the initial dig of the trench. The group of people that I was working with and I actually made a noticeable change to the trench. We were all proud of our work and felt like we had made a noticeable contribution to the site. I was more impressed by my fellow classmates than I was with myself. Looking around at the job site after it was time to leave on this last day, I truly noticed a change in the houses we were working on. We had changed the ragged looking yards into small parking spaces in front of the houses. We also improved the appearance of the front yard as well. Unfortunately, it wasn’t finished due to the massive amount of work that still remained which would be completed by the people who worked full time on the sites. However, the houses now had finished porches, front steps to get off the porch, and walkways. The rooves were beginning to be changed from old worn out shingles to tin sheets that would be less expensive to maintain. I was proud of how the class worked together and had contributed to the project of bettering the lives of those in need.

Fellow class members and I working to finish the trench

It was a rewarding process to work for Athens Habitat for Humanity. I feel as though I have really made a difference in the community and have contributed to a worthy cause. Although I was originally skeptical, I am glad that I had this opportunity to make a difference in the Athens community while simultaneously building stronger relationships with my classmates. I also enjoyed getting to meet the great people that were willing to do this year-round. All in all, it was an experience I would be willing to do again in the future and am thankful that I was allowed to work for the Athens Habitat for Humanity.

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