In the summer of 2002, a tool belt was part of my daily attire. That’s the summer I worked with friends and family to tear off cedar shakes on my house and install new windows and vinyl siding. I learned a lot about construction that summer and thought it was a big deal that I came away knowing my way around a sliding compound miter saw and the meaning of the terms “plumb” and “starter strip.”
Last week, I broke out the tool belt once again to be part of the volunteer effort for Habitat for Humanity. RIT is sponsoring a sustainable house on Whitney Street in Rochester.
Myself, along with Katie Willson (below left) from the HUB, an RIT employee for 26 years, and her daughter Amanda Burns (below right), a fourth-year business management student, made up the RIT team of volunteers. We worked alongside construction supervisors from Flower City Habitat for Humanity and community volunteers.
Edwin Mageary, the site supervisor, kept us busy all day. Armed with orange spray paint, Katie and I marked roof trusses to let crews know where to blow in the insulation. The paint got a bit messy. Katie had it on her face, me in my hair. Someone started calling me “orange” because I had paint on my hands, jeans and coat. Katie and I (pictured below) were also charged with cutting out the door jams with handsaws. In addition to the roof, a crew was doing duct work for the high-energy furnace.
I was amazed at how quickly the roof went up. Amanda and I used two-by-fours to brace the trusses while crews nailed them into place. The RIT ladies spent the rest of the afternoon along with April Randall, the future homeowner, hauling cumbersome eight-foot sheets of plywood to cover the trusses. After six-hours of sweat equity we left tired, but completely energized by the experience.
Each time I talk to April, she tells me how blessed she is by the compassion and generosity that
strangers have shown to help her achieve her dreams. For more than eight-months, April has spent hundreds of hours volunteering to build other people’s homes. Now she’s working on her own. I would encourage you to grab a toolbelt and join members of the RIT and Flower City Habitat for Humanity families to be part of changing someone’s life—like April’s. It’s all about paying it forward. If you would like to volunteer, contact Josh Thomson, RIT Habitat for Humanity site coordinator, at email@example.com