Home sweet home

By Ellen Russell | Aug 27, 2014

As I drove down the dusty dirt road curving around the incline, the rhythmic sound of hammers became more distinct.  A cluster of trucks surrounded the small building taking shape at the top of the hill.  I gathered my bundles and left my van, stepping around puddles and a variety of discarded items along the path worn through the field by many vehicles.  Several yards away voices called from the rooftop to others below.  Nearby, a circular saw buzzed, slicing off planks of fresh lumber leaving piles of sweet smelling sawdust in the grass below.

“Hey, here comes lunch!” shouted a middle-aged workman as he saw me approaching with my sacks and beverage jug.  “That’s right, time to take a break,” I responded with a smile.  Within minutes, we had sandwiches, potato salad, fruit and home-made brownies displayed on a plywood table in the shade of a tulip poplar.  Once the workmen had gathered, we offered a prayer of thanks for safety during the day’s work and God’s blessing on our “picnic” lunch.  How I enjoyed being a fly on the wall (or should I say 2X4) while joking and teasing between these folks began.  Who had done the most work, who had been slacking off – the mood of competition and rivalry was strong.  Then, the two ladies in the bunch joined in, pointing out that their hauling of necessary materials kept the whole operation running smoothly.

While the work crew ate, I ventured up the make-shift steps past construction debris to enter the wooden structure.  As I deciphered the floor plan from the skeleton of framing, I envisioned with excitement the birthday parties, Thanksgiving dinners and Friday night movies the future would hold in this place.  Be it a dung hut in Africa, a tent in the desert, or a cabin in the woods – yep, there’s no place like home.

This construction site was very special.  It is being selflessly and generously built by volunteers of Habitat for Humanity for a qualified family in need.  Folks come together in teams of six to ten, some skilled in trades and others just happy to lend a hand doing simple labor.  They work along side the head of household who is required to put in many hours of “sweat equity” in their homestead’s construction.  More volunteers will work on electrical, plumbing, dry wall, painting and staining – all the many skills and tasks that bring this dwelling to completion.   Others prepare and bring lunch to the workers, like I was this day, while still others support the organization with prayers or financial gifts.  Homes like this dot the landscape of our hillsides and coves throughout Haywood County, strengthening the fabric of our community by providing a secure place for hardworking folks to call home.

Oh, did I mention, there’s another whole team of folks who work at the Habitat “Restore” in Waynesville that generates revenue for Habitat for Humanity by selling donated construction and housing materials – another great part of this program,where folks can find a way to become involved with time, skills or donations.

So, if you like to swing a hammer, to paint or to run electrical wiring, or if you make great sandwiches and lemonade, you can be a part of this rewarding effort.  Join the team and experience the joy and satisfaction in helping a family in Haywood County.  Call Kim Vasquez, Volunteer Coordinator at Habitat for Humanity at 452-7960.  Kim, and the new Director of Habitat, Ms. Jamye Cooper will be happy to talk with you about finding a spot that suits your interest and schedule so you can be part of this terrific work. Make a lasting meaningful contribution to give a family a fresh start. What better way to help a neighbor than building their “home sweet, home?”

Ellen Russell volunteers with many organizations and lives in Crabtree.