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Five renovations in one week

By Julianna Calvin


Author Julianna Calvin is prepared and excited to start a long day on site after working almost a year in the ReStore offices of Habitat for Humanity of Coastal Fairfield County in Bridgeport, Conn.


David Cremer, Julianna Calvin and Chelsea Williams at the New Castle County Habitat’s meet and greet mixer.


Women at work! Amanda Trothier and Julianna Calvin tear down drywall and carry the debris outside to the dumpster on site.


Day one in Wilmington, Del. began with a mixer and dinner at the Habitat for Humanity New Castle County office and warehouse where staff welcomed members from Connecticut, North Carolina, Delaware, Maine and New Hampshire.

We learned of the affiliate’s ambitious plans to build a brand new subdivision and that our role for the week would be the demolition and rehabilitation of five townhomes in the Prices Run neighborhood.

Day Two was time to jump in and get dirty. We were split into seven groups: five renovation groups, one fencing group and a non-construction support group. Enthusiasm was a common theme today and the sounds of reciprocating saws, hammering and falling walls could be heard throughout the block. AmeriCorps members worked together carrying garbage pails of drywall and other debris, quickly filling 90 yards of container space.

As the day carried on, renovations continued and the majority of the properties were stripped of all drywall by lunch. Common sounds around the block included members singing along with the site radios, calls for more tools, buckets, water and garbage pails, and several neighbors asking questions and giving praises for everyone’s hard work. The neighbor on site two even lent a hand by helping the team empty a few garbage pails into the containers.

Lunch was a provided by a local culinary school and was the best lunch I have had to date at an AmeriCorps event. Luckily, the weather was cooperating and the thunder storms and 60 percent chance of rain that were forecast held off. Members took a little time to catch up and relax in the sun on this muggy day before heading back to their sites for more demolition.

The afternoon was a struggle as we raced the clock to meet our goal of cleaning our site of all drywall, kitchen cabinets, bathroom fixtures, and several walls. By 3 p.m. everyone was scrambling to pick up tools, lock up the site and head back to the hotel to get ourselves cleaned up for dinner.

Dinner was provided at a local church and catered by the same culinary school that brought us lunch. Each table was decorated with printed photos taken earlier in the day allowing us to reflect on all of our hard work. Tomorrow is another day and hopefully all five sites will pass structural inspections scheduled for Wednesday!

Julianna Calvin is a first year AmeriCorps VISTA serving in Bridgeport, Conn. at Coastal Fairfield County Habitat’s ReStore. Julianna came from sunny Arizona to Connecticut and recently finished her master’s in real estate development. She is currently responsible for helping the ReStore gain some much-needed exposure in the community by attending community outreach events and green fairs, initiating the inaugural green fair at the ReStore and recruiting and training volunteers. She has recently been hired at her affiliate and looks forward to many years of continued service to Habitat and helping Bridgeport families build and live in safe homes and communities.