Wednesday, October, 18, 2017 | 1:02 PM | by ashaffer
After months of preparation and communication, emails and meetings, it finally began to coalesce. Deacons, youth, children and their parents began to come together for a single Saturday event: the Blitz.
It started early in the summer as an idea: a big day on a build site with as many volunteers of all ages as we could muster. Led by the deacons we partnered with Habitat to see what might happen. One of the larger challenges being the age restriction (due to insurance policies) on build sites. What about younger folks? Through brainstorming and dreaming they finally had it, and the Blitz Build was born. Supplies were arranged and purchased, volunteer coordinators were recruited and the race was on.
The last Saturday in September, 55 volunteers gathered. Armed with hammers and coffee, we blearily met in the church parking lot to be shuttled to the Gene Kirk subdivision, ready for Dave (the foreman) to instruct us. It started slowly at first, as we each settled into our respective jobs, but once we did it quickly became a holy experience.
Young and old, parents and grandparents, church members and guests fell into the rhythm and the sound of saws and hammering rang out in the warming Saturday air. As the younger children put together and painted pencil boxes, rain gauges, and wooden trucks the youth assembled picnic tables. The adults graded the yard, and we all steadily worked from the foundation up, cutting and leveling boards for the subfloor.
If you've never been part of a Habitat build, it really is an amazing thing to behold. After 30 years in Dalton/Whitfield/Murray counties the amount of planning and calculation that goes into a build is straight science. Nothing is wasted, very little is left over, and very seldom are any supplies lacking. Each day of a build is mapped out and all supplies are on the sight when volunteers arrive, portioned and arranged for each step of the build. Foundation? This pile of blocks. Subfloor? Each step ready to go, Dave has the order. Need to make adjustments? Great, this is how it's done. Of course I'm sure any contractor who builds houses, after any amount of experience, can do the same - but working exclusively with volunteers is a whole different animal.
That's the beauty of it, really. Experienced and inexperienced partner, sweating together as we learn the best way to do it. Fresh eyes provide new perspective, and seasoned ones years of knowledge.
Habitat requires that each family put "sweat equity" into each build, providing not only value but adding ownership and investment for everyone who benefits from the amazing work that Habitat does. On this build, we were privileged to meet the current family as well as two previous families who came ready to work - adding an incredible personal connection to already rewarding work.
The thing about a build like this is it's impossible to work by yourself. There is no solo work, everything requires cooperation, which creates conversation and relationships. We toil together, some of us bleed (just a little) together, and it turns into much more than simply (although it's not simple) building a house - it's building community. At the end of the day, the house had gone from a bare foundation to a completed subfloor, ready to begin framing. Compared to professionals it may not seem like much, but it was so much more. Honestly, some of us were ready to keep going, but the Georgia game was about to begin.