Sunday, March 11, 2012

We finally made it back!  We got back yesterday afternoon and most of us were able to head home for the night to spend with our friends and family.  

We'd like to extend a final thank you to all of the workers in Pickens.  Without the hard work that they put in every day, and guidance to us during our stay, we would not have done such a fantastic job this week.  Thank you Jill, Cindy, Brian, Gary, and Michael!

In addition, we'd like to thank our chaperones.  Thank you not only for driving us down to South Carolina and everywhere we went, but also for being so excited and involved throughout the week.  Thanks for also being up for any and all the adventures we went on, and working with us to make the trip so wonderful.

Thank you to Andrew, or team leader, who worked to make this trip possible.  Through his efforts, we were able to go on the trip and have it be so amazing.  While on the trip, he encouraged us all every day and kept us awake, happy, and proud of our work. 

Thank you to the Greeno family for being so involved with the house.  It was so awesome to be able to work with Amanda and Leslie during the week and meet their kids.  Having the family around made the week so meaningful and exciting.  We wish you the best with your new house and are so excited for you!

While we all settle back in at home, we look forward to coming back next year (for most of us!), and working with Habitat and doing service work in general.  Thanks!

Friday, March 9, 2012

Here are a few pictures of the work we've accomplished!
When we arrived at the beginning of the week, the house was only a foundation with a baseboard.  

Now, we have exterior walls and a lot of interior walls!  We have made so much progress!!
This is the front left wall of the house.  In the corner will be two bedrooms.
This is the back left wall of the house.  In the corner is the bedroom, and then there will be a bathroom, then laundry room, once the walls are complete.
This is the front right wall of the house.  The master bedroom is here and then behind that is the bathroom.  The living room is in the middle of the house in the front, and the kitchen is in the middle of the house in the back.
This is the final picture of the house from the outside!  You can see that over the course of the week, we have raised the exterior walls and guarded them in the moisture wrap.  We have finished a large amount of the interior walls as well.  Looking back, it is miraculous and humbling to think of all the progress we made over the course of only one week.

This morning, we started by cutting the moisture seal from the top of the house.  Steff holds the ladder as Jenn cuts the wrap!
All week, we've been saying that Bri looks like Rosie the Riveter from the WWII propaganda. Today, we finally got a picture of her!
Michael was one of our helpers this week.  You can see how he uses the floor-plan as he sets up the boards that will be used for the walls.
This was taken by the photographer on Thursday, but it's such a cute picture that we had to post it.  Kelsey, Chelsea, Naiomi, Emily, Steff, Bri, and Ryan pose for a picture in the wall.
Meet our fantastic chaperones - Brie and Lisa!  They're currently sleeping, and have been, for a few hours, so that we can leave in the middle of the night and get back to Pennsylvania tomorrow afternoon!  We're so thankfully that they have been so helpful and supportive this week!
Naiomi helps nail a wall into the baseboard!  You can see one of the bedrooms on the right and two closets towards the left of the picture.
After lunch, Jill, one of the Habitat for Humanity helpers that was with us this week, gives us a short history of Habitat and answers our questions. 
After our discussion, we build the largest interior wall.  This will span the back bedroom, bathroom, and laundry room.
Once we put the wall up, we could see how the hallway would look!!
Emily saws at the base of the door frame.  This initially looked like fun, but she quickly realized that it was hard work!
We finally finished our work on the house for the week!  You can see our group, as well as the Habitat workers from Pickens.  We were all truly upset (even crying) that we finished working on the house.  Saying goodbye to all of our helpers for the week was awful, but they were very appreciative of all of our work and that we had given up our Spring Breaks to come down South and help out the community!  We are all very happy to have worked on this house and truly wish for the best for the Greeno Family!
Before we left, we signed and left notes in the trusses of the house that would be placed in the roof of the house.
Tonight for dinner, we managed to mostly we plaid or black shirts (for the girls), and blue (for guys).  So the few of us that weren't dressed like everyone else changed and we all matched!  It was almost completely unplanned!!
Following dinner, we had a heart-to-heart in the kitchen.  Someone found a large jug of pickles, so we naturally had to open it and all eat some!  However, it took Kelsey, Bri, Alyssa, AND Chelsea to finally get the jar open!

Now, we're all preparing for the long drive home.  A few of us will nap, and most of us will stay up and plan to sleep in the car.  Pennsylvania, we'll see you tomorrow afternoon!

This page is for Thursday, March 8!
This morning, Steff, Emily, and Kelsey made breakfast for us!  You can see Steff making pancakes here!
And here is Emily making corn muffins!  They were delicious and we really appreciated the girls making breakfast for us.
We had the photographer for Habitat for Humanity come this morning to take a group picture with the house.  You can really see all the progress we've made!
We raised some interior walls today.  By the end of our shift, we had blocked out the walls for the master bedroom and bathroom.  Hopefully we will finish the rest of the interior walls tomorrow!  
The bathtub had to be slid into to bathroom.  It was a tight squeeze, but it fit!
Here's a picture of Jenn annd Andrew in an attempt to shimmy the tub back in the bathroom.
Alyssa, Andrew, and Steff make cripplers to support the interior walls.  It requires a lot of strength to push the boards and make them flush.

Steff happily swings out her anger on the nail to lock the two interior walls into place.

Today, we had a half day.  We decided to take a hike during the afternoon at Table Rock State Park.  This park was one of 16 state parks built in South Carolina during the New Deal.  We hiked the 3.6 mile Table Rock Trail to the top of the mountain - and back!  7.2 miles doesn't sound like a lot, but it was a rough, steep hike.
You can see that we're all really happy and excited before we start!  We're also relatively clean!!  That's about to rapidly change once we start the climb.
Along the walk, there was an awesome stream that trickled down the mountain.  The water was crisp and clear and it was really refreshing once we finished the hike.
Here are Steff and Andrew a little less than midway up the mountain.  This large rock jutted out from the surrounding landscape!
While we were hiking, we split into two groups.  Halfway up the mountain, there was a hut with a scenic view.  Sitting in the view was a girl who we were talking to.  She was in the middle of trying to jog up the mountain, because she lives nearby.  However, she didn't have any water and decided she should stop because she was alone.  The group that I was with decided to invite her to join us, and she hiked the rest of the way with us!  It was really awesome to get to talk to someone who has lived around here and hear about her life.  She posed with Bri at a this point, called "Governer's Point", which was .9 miles from the top of the trail.
Here is the view from the top of the mountain!  It was somewhat of a cloudy day, but that was actually a relief because it would have been unbearably hot if it had been sunny.  From the top of the mountain, you can see North Carolina and other areas.  It was breathtaking to emerge from the woods and see the view.
Finally!  We reached the summit of the mountain!  3.6 miles of trails to reach 3,124 feet in elevation!  Here we are - Bri, Jenn, Emily, and Alyssa.  The second group also made it, but we don't have a group picture of them.
After the sweaty hike, we went to Clemson University.  We got dinner on campus and then split up to explore the town.  When we finally got back home at night, everyone collapsed and slept until morning.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

When we arrived at the site this morning, our first job was to raise the walls. Everyone lines up in order to spread out the weight of the wall.  
Once we raise the wall, it is necessary to hold it while other tasks can be completed.  These tasks include using supports to make sure that the walls are straight and nailing the base of the wall into the base board.  
One of the tasks that we needed to do was to check and make sure that the wall was level.  Here is Steff checking the level and Andrew peering over her shoulder.  
After we get the walls up, we have to check and make sure that all the nails are inserted properly.  This was rather hard at points because many of the nails were in high, or hard to reach places.  Thankfully, many of our helpers were ready to climb ladders and lean out windows or doors!  You can see Andrew working on the ladder and Ryan looking out the window.  
While we work, we also have a lot of fun with one another.  It's hard to pass up an excellent chance for a photo.  Steff and Chelsea lean out the window and pose for this one!
Here is Gary, one of our local volunteers, on a ladder trying to level out the wall.  We reached a point where we realized that there was a very large curve in the bottom 2x4 of the wall, so we needed to fix that with a sledge hammer and lots of man power.
You can see Brie and Ryan nailing the support into the baseboard in this picture.  This is done after making sure that the wall is level and it helps to ensure that the wall will not move after being raised.
Chelsea bangs a nail into the final wall.  Once this wall is up, then all four walls of the house will be complete!
In this picture, Steff, Lisa, Andrew, Kelsey, and others lift the bathtubs into the house before the walls are raised.  This is necessary because the tubs will not fit into the house once the walls are raised!
The day was really cloudy, so when the sun peeked out for a minute, we all took the chance to soak up the rays.  From the left, you can see Naiomi, Alyssa, Steff, Kelsey, Brianne, and Andrew enjoying the brief sunshine. 
Of course, any work environment is not any fun unless practical jokes are present.  In this picture, you can see that we have attached the Chalk Line to the belt of Ryan's pants.  It was a good five minutes and many puns later before he realized that he really was "the butt of the joke"!
We have to cut out the windows on the side of the house, and here is Steff with the Sawzall doing a fantastic job!  She was scared at first, but quickly overcame that because she knew she was cool enough.
After a long morning of work, we take a break for lunch.  You can see Steff, Kelsey, Naiomi, Chelsea, Kelsey, and Brianne leaning against the bathtubs in an effort to relax, at least just a little!
We had a lot of fun playing with water in sawdust at lunch.  When you mix water with sawdust, it forms tiny little balls that actually roll around.  Brianne was the best at getting the little balls to form and had a lot of fun playing with them and bouncing them into one another.
 Finally, we lift the last wall!  This was really excited, because you could see all four walls of the house raised.  Seeing all four of these walls really gave a great perspective of what the house would look like.
When we were fixing some of the nails, it was necessary to go to extremes.  Here is Lisa hanging out a window, swinging at a nail that was held by Andrew, who was also leaning out of the house.  He couldn't see the nail so Lisa really had to do a great job and not miss!
You can see that Lisa truly is fearless.  Here she is again, hanging out a window.  Brie hangs over the roof, and Emily and Ryan lean out the windows to supervise.
Sometimes, we don't want to use the ladders to get out of the house.  You can see that Ryan leans out, to be caught by Andrew and lowered to the ground.
Here is Steff, supported by Alyssa, as she leans backwards out the window in order to make sure that the nail goes in correctly.
Towards the end of the day, we must add the button nails to the moisture wrap on the house.  You can see that Steff is working hard, but that Alyssa has appeared to have fallen asleep!
Towards the end of the day, we have to work really hard to stay excited to hammer the nails into the boards.  However, Brianne works on and completes the job!
We still keep our excitement up as we reach the end of the day.  You can see Emily, Brianne, Ryan, and Alyssa and they work!
Today, we got to meet the entire family that would be living in the house!  You can see Amanda and Leslie, with their children Gavin, Aubrey, and Nathaniel!
Gavin and Aubrey were really excited about the large van and readily jumped in.  Emily, Steff, and Ryan sit in with them and explain how we all use it!
For dinner tonight, we got to attend the church's weekly supper.  We split up and got to mingle with the congregation.  This provided a really nice opportunity to meet some of the citizens of Pickens and talk with them!
We were also very lucky to have Amanda, Leslie, and their children attend the meal as well!  It was a great chance to get to meet the family all together and talk with the children!
Following the service, we were invited to attend some of the bible studies.  One of our options was "Life, the Universe, God, and Everything".  This was the final course in a five-week session, which provided us with a wonderful wrap up of everything they had previously touched on.