By Sadie-Anne Jones
After having heard about the great experiences others have had with Habitat for Humanity, the impact the organization has on the community, and due to my own interest in affordable housing initiatives, I decided to invest my volunteer hours with the Asheville Area Habitat for Humanity. It was great to have the opportunity through Gate 15 to spend an entire week on a single cause and get to connect with people from my community in a way I would not have otherwise. My current location, Asheville North Carolina is yet another example of a city struggling to keep up with increasing housing costs.
Organizations like Habitat for Humanity are helping to circumvent barriers to homeownership by working with families and individuals to build them homes at an affordable cost. Future homeowners work side-by-side with volunteers like myself and the supervisors to help bring their new home to life. The development I worked on will eventually consist of around 90 homes, bringing affordable housing to many families and individuals. During my volunteer week I signed up for several different projects at the work site. These ranged from painting, installing appliances, “fluffing” insulation, to house framing. While my construction related skills are limited, the job site supervisors were very knowledgeable and made it easy for myself and other volunteers to learn and follow along with task instructions. Because it is up to the volunteers to pick which projects they want to assist with, I was able to work on three different homes all at varying levels of completion.
Of the projects I worked on, the Women Build was my favorite – and the most exhausting! – part of the week. Unlike the other homes I worked on, the frame of the house had not been finished yet. Because of this, several other volunteers and I got the opportunity to build and raise multiple walls for the building. I not only learned aspects about what goes into building a house but also techniques on how to do it efficiently. The supervisor also showed and explained the blueprints for the building which was interesting to learn how to read as well as see how our work fit into the overall construction of the house.
At the end of the week, a wall raising ceremony was held to dedicate the Women Build house to the family who would soon move in. It was a fun event to be a part of after having volunteered my week with Habitat for Humanity. Overall, my volunteer experience was very enjoyable and I’m thankful to have met new people in my community dedicating their time to the same purpose of bringing affordable housing to the Asheville area.