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It’s a Wrap! Build-a-Thon 2011

By Julia Sellers

 

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Three weeks of sunbaked building adventures culminated with more than 70 Habitat for Humanity partner families receiving assistance from AmeriCorps members during the 2011 Build-a-Thon.

“The three weeks in May, building with eight affiliates, was very successful,” said Peter Rumsey, HFHI National Service director.

This year’s multiple-site endeavor was a new turn from past projects that focused on one city. The eight affiliates hosting 450 AmeriCorps members included:

  • Franklin, West Virginia
  • Bay St. Louis, Mississippi
  • Birmingham, Alabama
  • Seattle and King County, Washington
  • Milwaukee, Wisconsin
  • Wilmington, Delaware
  • Pensacola, Florida.

“One of the advantages was a little more intimate setting for the members,” said Rumsey. “Everyone had more direct contact with other members and with the community.”

From community surveys for the Neighborhood Revitalization Initiative to cleanup from the April 27 tornadoes that ripped across the southeast, the three weeks from May 1-21 gave members an opportunity to show off their adaptability and passion for Habitat’s mission.

One week before 45 members were set to begin a dozen projects for the Greater Birmingham Habitat for Humanity, it was unknown whether the affiliate could carry on with the build. As they evaluated damage to four partner family homes, with one home completely swept off its foundation, the affiliate decided to move forward.

The affiliate regrouped and swapped new construction projects for cleanup efforts to assist partner families with minor damage, such as warped door frames and split vinyl siding.

“AmeriCorps (members) are consistently motivated by a desire to make a difference, and they overcame and weathered the challenges to make a difference in that community,” said Rumsey.

During National AmeriCorps Service week, May 14-21, a twist in weather situations also brought unexpected sunny spring days to Seattle, Washington, providing ideal conditions for neighborhood surveys in the suburb of Renton. On the east coast, however, unusual rainy days left New Castle, Delaware participants on soggy ground and embracing less than stellar weather to plow through renovation projects in the historic Prices Run neighborhood.

Debriefing sessions from each build left Rumsey humbled and amazed by members’ commitment to ministry, he said.

“What stands out is how each member has a unique story that they take away from this experience,” he said. “It’s setting the stage for another generation of leadership.”

Julia Sellers is a writer/editor for Program Communications, based in Americus, GA.