We are filled with mixed emotions as our time in Kentucky is coming to an end. We have all made many connections to the people and experiences here, and we feel that the week flew by. We grew so close as a group and made meaningful friendships to treasure for a life time. Even when working on difficult tasks throughout our service, we were always having fun and sharing so many laughs!
Today, the group continued to work on Angie King's house. The "drywall team" finished almost all of the ceiling and the walls of two bedrooms. The "outside team" finished all of the siding, besides 2 complicated pieces, and the entire front porch ceiling and siding, including the hooks for a future porch swing! Both teams were determined to finish what the HABITAT leaders had set up and really wanted to see our projects completed. They expressed how shocked they were with how much we got done in just a few days and loved our work ethic and positive attitude.
After working to the minute we had to stop, we said goodbye to our house and went for a Friday fish fry at the local church. We again were welcomed by the community members who sparked up conversations with us, gave us their extra dessert, and expressed their appreciation for our service. To continue a great last day, Mike (our HABITAT contractor) invited us to his home for a bonfire. Here, we shared stories and got to hear about some of Mike's life, all while we enjoyed trying to stay warm around the relaxing fire. We met Mike's adorable dogs and cats and explored his personal wood shop all found on his 106-acre farm. At the end of the night, Mike was so overly generous and kind to give us each a handmade wooden ornament to take home with us.
Overall, this ABST has taught us so much about ourselves, the Clark and Madison County community, building houses and using tools, and how to treat people and live for serving others. We are happy to come home, see our family and friends, and get back into our schedules, but we are sad to leave this experience and our new Kentucky-group family. This has truly been a wonderful experience that we will hold dear forever.
We plan to depart tomorrow morning around 10:00am, stopping in the middle to eat a late brunch at a Waffle House, and be back at Gannon by around 6:00pm. We will post an arrival update tomorrow for all those parents who want to ensure we arrived safely on time.
Thank you for reading and sharing in some of our experiences!
Today was a beautiful sunny day here in Richmond to work on our Habitat home. Our whole group was able to arrive to the site completely together for the first time this week. We all had such a fun time working together, learning new things, and getting our jobs for the day done. We split up into three teams to work on the drywall in the house, finish the siding for the entire side of the house, and work on the porch.
Our drywall crew put up the ceiling throughout the whole house, finishing everything except for the bathrooms and one bedroom. They had a few drawbacks along the way, but were able to laugh through them and work together as the dream team they are.
Our siding team worked on putting the siding up on the house and was able to finish an entire side. They got into a good system and were able to work through the tedious windows and doors along the house. Drivers passing on the road now see a beautiful stone-gray house instead of one covered in white construction plastic.
Our porch team was busy today splitting up into channeling, hanging plywood and the ceiling soffit, and bending metal for the wrap-around of the porch. The "battle for the benches" was a good time, juggling between the channels for the ceiling, plywood and soffit installation, and hanging the metal. We were able to make it work and got a lot of work done.
Our busy team came together for a home-cooked chili and bread made by a local couple, Sandy and Steve, who have been a part of the community for almost forty years. We were able to share the meal with them and hear a bit of their story. After lunch we headed back to the site and worked hard until the workday had ended.
At the end of the day, Angie came by to see everyone as well as the house. She was so excited by all of the progress we have made. It was really neat to see the community of the Habitat workers with Angie, and to be a piece in that community. We were also treated to some delicious blueberry and apple pies from a couple we met at church who are involved in Habitat, after dinner, along with a cinnamon bundt cake and coffee cake for tomorrow morning. The hospitality we have been given here is absolutely incredible and we are all so grateful for it.
We finished our reflections for the day, and our family is relaxing playing some Catan, speed solitaire, and UNO. In a little while, we're going to make a quick stop at Insomnia Cookies for a late night snack. We can't wait for tomorrow to get back to the site and work together to get as much as we can done for our last day with Habitat.
It it bitter sweet to know that our trip is meeting its half way point. We miss our loved ones back home and the comfort of our homes, but we love serving this community and making memories together. Today, we were excited to be told that we will actually get to work together, as a full group of 14, for the rest of our days here. We are working as a big team to make big progress on the King Family's House. Angie King and her two sons are going to be living in this HABITAT home, and we actually got to meet and speak to Angie as well as meet her mentor in the organization. We are so humbled to get to work alongside this amazing family that we got to connect with, and we hope that we are able to finish all of the projects that HABITAT wants for this home before we head back to Erie.
During our last morning apart, one half of our group followed in the other half's footsteps as they took part in the activities that the group did yesterday. Today's members also helped around the HABITAT house before going into Restore where they made another new paint color! For any readers that also have social media, these paint colors are a part of an online competition. HABITAT worked with many colleges from across the nation, so when a new college comes and gets to mix paint to help Restore, HABITAT allows the students to name there own color. These colors will compete on social media to see whose color is the best and has the best name, so if you want to vote, find the HABITAT Facebook page and vote for either Erie Shores Green (a gorgeous teal) or Guy Patrick's Sandy Beach (a beautiful warm tan). As a reminder, Guy Patrick is a wonderful man who has a huge impact here with HABITAT and is a Gannon Alumni!
On the other side of town, the other half of the group unloaded a mass amount of dry wall to put up in the house we worked on earlier in the week (with insulation). Some of these group members even built a side porch on the home. In the afternoon, the two halves of our group got to come together at the King House to install the dry wall, with some really cool tools and skills, as well as put up siding on the outside of the house. We loved learning tons of new skills from Hope, Mike, and Marty as we cut, installed, and drilled in the ceilings with dry wall and the siding with grey panels.
Tomorrow and Friday, HABITAT said they would be ecstatic if we finish putting up all of the dry wall around the inside of the home and the siding around the outside. We also have other smaller projects around the house that HABITAT has the group members working on, like the roofs over the two porches. Overall, the staff with HABITAT have mentioned how we are incredible fast and hard workers and that they truly enjoy teaching us the skills and watching us to complete the newly learned tasks on our own. We absolutely love working with the team and could not feel more welcomed and cared-for in this community.
For dinner, we were inviting to the First United Methodist Church where the HABITAT contractor, Mike's, wife was serving for the community. It was so nice to meet Mike's wife, Belinda, and well as some of the members of the church. They were so appreciative of us being there to serve with HABITAT, and at the same time we were so grateful that they would even think to offer us to join them for dinner. After eating, we planned to go bowling which unfortunately fell through. However, we embraced our childish sides and ended up playing versions of baseball and tag in the side yard of our HABITAT house. Group favorites were potato-pan (a modified game of baseball but instead of a bat, we used a pan, and instead of a ball, we used a cut up potato, and instead of bases, we just ran around with no real rules) and flash light tag (where the only way you could see in the dark was with the flashlights that the taggers held). We shared so many laughs as we ran around and enjoyed some fun free time outside together, finishing up the festivities with some star gazing.
We are thoroughly enjoying every aspect of our trip and will be sad as we near our last days here. We love getting to know the community, doing the physical labor and service projects, and having fun together after our hard days at work. We are creating so many life-long memories and cannot wait to make more during our last two days in Kentucky as we serve this incredible community with HABITAT.
We had another fun and productive day on the work sites today. We had a very busy and jam-packed day, so we will try to keep this blog post concise. One half of our group helped around the HABITAT head quarters and mixed paint and served at the restore project. Here, volunteers through HABITAT donate house-hold items and paint to help raise money for the house building projects. Our group members aided in this process by mixing paints to sell the new colors to local house renovators. They even made a beautiful teal shade that they named "Erie Shores Green". They were so efficient that they got to finish their work day early and go on a hike!
The other half of the group went to the HABITAT warehouse where they painted base boards and trim to go into one of the new houses being worked on. They worked so fast that the HABITAT coordinator, Hope, asked them to help reorganize the messy warehouse so future HABITAT teams can navigate it better. Later in the day, this team worked with newly-learned power tools, like nail guns and power saws, to begin putting the fresh baseboards and trim into the house. Some members worked on other finishing touches like fixing door hinges and cleaning the outdoor siding. The HABITAT contractor, Mike, was so patient and informative with us to make sure we were learning how to use the tools correctly and to complete the tasks to their standard.
Once the group was reunited, we all shared in homemade tacos, reflected, and played some fun and competitive board games. We cannot wait to keep learning new skills, getting to know the members of this amazing community, and growing closer together in friendship.
Today our group kick-started our day off with some breakfast and an introduction to the history of HABITAT and some of the staff and volunteers that are a part of the Madison/Clark County HABITAT. We learned the story of the founders of this amazing organization and got a first-hand testimony from one of the volunteers, Guy. We all shared a special connection with Guy as he attended Gannon from 1951-1953, and shared his stories of trekking through the cold Erie winters (uphill both ways of course). After breakfast the team headed off to their two locations- an insulation installation and shed cleanup.
The alpha squad headed off in the beta car to install some insulation. Our team split up into groups to caulk the exterior of the house, cut and fit the insulation, and staple it all together to make everything secure. We split up into groups and tackled the entire house in three hours. At the end of our build we were able to meet Angie, the house owner, and hear about her story and share her excitement for her new home. It was such a cool experience, and our team had a great time working together.
The alpha car headed over to another site to clean up an old shed filled with trash on the inside and out. A little while after they got there it started raining, but our team pushed through and used their teamwork and perseverance to get the job done. Then it was lunchtime, and after that they patched up some walls with putty. Lastly, they headed home for the day and cleaned up from their muddy mess.
After the whole team returned home and played some card games, we shared a yummy pasta, meatballs, and garlic bread dinner compliments of Kevin. After dinner, we reflected on our days and watched a video on life after the coal industry in Kentucky. For the rest of the evening we are enjoying game night, snacks, and spending time with one another.
Today we thoroughly enjoyed exploring our new community. To start off our day, most of group members attended St. Mark's Catholic Church where we were welcomed with open arms. The priest even recognized our group in front of the congregation, sharing how we were from Erie, Pennsylvania and working with HABITAT for Humanity for the coming week. On the way out, we were stopped by a kind couple wanting to get to know our story and wishing us the best of luck on our service.
Then, we went to lunch at Casa de Fiesta where we enjoyed authentic-style Mexican food and good conversation. After returning to our lodge, we relaxed for a couple hours and researched places to go on a hike. We ended up going to a local nature park and hiked along the John Holder Trail. We stopped at many amazing sites, including a small river and a rushing waterfall. We all talked about how much we appreciated the sunshine, warm weather (66 degrees), and being able to enjoy the outdoors, and how much we missed these opportunities because of Erie winters.
After our hike, we came home and made our first home-cooked meal. It was fun trying to navigate this new little kitchen and working as a team. Tonight we reflected, learned more about HABITAT for Humanity, and shared some stories with each other. We are all excited to get started with service tomorrow.