Monday, October 24, 2016

IYC Women Launch with Habitat Project

IYC Women with homeowners to be John and John Jr.
Isles Yacht Club Women is a new group organized to help with various community projects on a one-off basis. A group oriented towards giving back to the community is a great addition to all the fun activities the Club offers. I missed the orientation meeting, but understand there were tons of great ideas thrown out -- from making dresses to send to Haiti to volunteering at the Dragon Boat Festival to working in the community gardens.  (Count me out for anything that has sewing involved!)

Mark, our site supervisor
The group's first project was a morning working at a Habitat for Humanity home. We had been told our job would be doing the interior painting for the home. But there was one slight problem when we arrived -- there were no interior walls.  I immediately harkened back to the chaos of the Habitat homes my friend Althea and I worked on in New Orleans post-Katrina (along with her 16 year-old daughter Maddie and three of her friends). It was so disorganized that Althea and I spent much of our week sitting around chatting. Would this day end up the same? 

Happily, Mark, our site supervisor, was totally on top of things. In his introduction, Mark shared that he lives in a Habitat home himself. All H4H homeowners have to put sweat equity into their houses while they are being built. His abundant skills and easy manner obviously impressed them enough to give him a job. 

Diana paints trim
Our first assignment was to sweep out the house, which tradesman had left filled with stray bits of insulation and sawdust and other debris. While I don't think anyone looked at him askance, he quickly noted that this would be the first job if a group of men were volunteering that day. He wanted to make sure that when his boss came by, everything was in tip top shape and ready for the next step.

A few of us grabbed the incredibly worn brooms and got to work. (This again reminded me of our work in New Orleans when Althea kept saying, as we dug holes for fence posts that would soon be filled with rain, "There are tools specifically for this purpose. Can't we just go buy some?" But then you realize that any implement used by H4H quickly becomes worn out. With approximately 20 homes going up in Charlotte County each year, anything new gets a lot of use in a short period of time. 

Debbie at work
Some of us did paint get to paint, although it was beneath the siding of the house and the trim and the steps. Mary Francis ended up with the glamorous job of raking the soil up to the foundation of the house after the paint had dried. (This is just one example of the details those of us who move into a new home don't even consider.) The weather was glorious, so it turned out to be a bonus to work outdoors. 

We got some more challenging jobs as well, such as putting up siding just underneath the roof line. Admittedly, it took a few of us for this task, leading us to adapt the old joke to, "How many IYC women does it take to put up a piece of siding?"

Sheryl & Jane ensured I didn't fall
the 2' to the ground
Each piece of siding was 12' long. The first step was to measure from the end of the home to the points where the window started and ended as the siding had to be cut a different depth to accommodate the window. Recalling my success with measuring for blinds in the past, I immediately said, "I'm not doing that." "Why am I not surprised?" Mark laughingly asked. He went on to say he's done this job a while and gets a good sense of people pretty quickly. 

Once the measurements were done, we cut the siding, Mark crimped it, and we slid it into its slot. (Trust me when I say that it didn't go quite as smoothly as that sounds.)  It was quite satisfying.

Mary Francis preps the stairs
Although we were only there for an extended morning, Mark was impressed with the amount we accomplished. He said a team of women are often more productive than a group of men. "Women can work and talk at the same time," he noted. "Men seem to have to stop working when they talk." 

He added that men can get sidetracked when something is done in a different way than they would have done themselves. His description (with accompanying visual) of one worker pointing to something he didn't like and then everyone else abandoning their posts to check it out and give their own opinions was quite hilarious.  All the wives nodded knowingly.

IYC Women's motto is, "Volunteering is more fun when you do it with friends." How true. I think I can speak for everyone when I say it was a fun day and that we left with a feeling of accomplishment.  I'm looking forward to future projects with this great group of women. 

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