Saturday, February 13, 2016

Habitat for Humanity Build #1: Vero Beach

One of the hardest parts of starting RVentures was giving up all our volunteer activities and the friendships at home. While reading another RV traveler's blog, we found out about the Habitat for Humanity Care-A-Vanners program. During our build with this talented crew, we found a great way to use our talents to give back ... and the new friendships formed was a precious BONUS!

Our build site was the Waterside Community in Vero Beach. The Habitat for Humanity affiliate purchased the land and will build approximately 50 homes here. During our two weeks, we worked on five houses in various stages of construction. Future homeowners worked alongside us. To be considered for the program, they put in 300 hours of work at the buildsite as well as attend classes that will help ensure that they will have the skills to be successful homeowners.

As a result of this "sweat equity", the homes showed the pride of the new owners. And the treats provided by grateful families show how they continue to give back for the gift of their new home.

I was a bit nervous starting out, as I am a construction "newbie". Never handled power tools ... in fact, Doug wasn't even sure that I knew the difference between nails and screws! But Richard, our construction supervisor, had no problem finding jobs for me that were within my skill and comfort level.


In fact, after he tasted the Yummy Bars that I brought for break one day, he decided that I could be the official "Snack Maker" ... I can do that! Since we are moving on, I will leave the recipe here.

Yummy Bars

1 chocolate cake mix (dry)
3/4 cup butter (melted)
2/3 cup evaporated milk
1 bag (14 oz) Kraft caramels (unwrapped)
1/2 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350. Mix melted butter, dry cake mix and 1/3 cup evaporated milk together and put 2/3 of the batter in a lightly greased 9x13 pan. Bake at 350 for 8 minutes. Meanwhile, melt the caramels and 1/3 cup evaporated milk in microwave until melted; stirring often. Pour melted caramel mixture over baked cake mix. Sprinkly with chocolate chips. Spoon the rest of the cake mixture on top. Bake at 350 for 20 minutes. Cool and cut. Enjoy!

I have been told that these bars last 2-3 days, but I have never been able to test that theory ...

According to Doug, our workday started at "0 Dark 30" (thus the half-opened eyes) and went until 12 noon when the day started heating up.

During that time Richard skillfully coordinated the many groups of volunteers ... and utilized the various skills to get the job done.

Diane and her husband, George, have 23 years of Habitat for Humanity building experience. They have built in every state. I am in constant awe and admiration of her power saw skills!

A large group of men from one of the retirement communities would come on Tuesdays. It was inspiring to see this group to work together to "raise the roof"!

How many cooks can we fit in the kitchen? Quite a few when each brings their own personal construction skills!

Larry (in orange) served as our Care-A-Vanner leader using his 10 years of volunteer experience to ensure we all had a great build ... and fun social events like the Super Bowl potluck!

Doug learned a thing or two about home construction when working with his contractor dad during his younger days ... 

From these pics it looks like he learned how to let someone else do the work while he takes care of all the "heavy" cleanup!

But in all seriousness, my greatest moments were being about to work alongside Doug and the other volunteers and have them patiently teach me "serious construction skills". By the end I have learned ....


...that caulking is lots like cake decorating

...that working with the friendly, supportive, and experienced "women's build team" is just as therapeutic as coffee with my girlfriends!

...that laying tile flooring is as fun as assembling a puzzle ... but the pieces fit much better when Doug does the measuring of small corner pieces!

We signed up the one build initially as we were unsure how we would like the Care-A-Vanner experience. We are glad to say that it exceeded our expectations so much so that I entitled this blog entry as "Build #1"... there will be more! After just the first week, we got back on the Care-A-Vanner website and have signed up to three more builds (in Wisconsin, South Dakota and Louisiana) in late summer and fall. 

The answer of how we can we use our "serious" construction ... and baking skills to bring to promise of a better future for others was obvious by the smiles of the future homeowner. Habitat for Humanity's Care-A-Vanner program brings together the talents of so many to make the dream of homeownership a reality.

Until next time ... utilize your "serious" skills ... and enjoy the adventures in your life! Print this post

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