Day one of the Pensacola, Florida Build-a-Thon
By Calli Speakman
Pensacola is excited to host the AmeriCorps members and all the members are excited to be in Pensacola. I think it may have something to do with the white sandy beaches, as several times today I was asked, “How do I get to the beach?”
Members are also ready to get dirty and get to work, especially after a very motivational opening ceremony. We heard from Larry Gluth, the U.S. and Canada Habitat International area office vice president. He shared that he and his wife were so inspired by AmeriCorps members, that in their will, they requested their son to complete a year of national service.
We also heard about the great work that Pensacola Habitat for Humanity is doing. The two counties they work in ―Escambia and Santa Rosa ― are some of the poorest counties in Florida. In the 30 years they have been in existence, they have built more than 700 homes.
The AmeriCorps members are going to build the first three homes of their new subdivision, Camshire Meadows. The subdivision will consist of 114 homes, or 114 families that will live in decent, affordable housing in a safe neighborhood.
One of the most inspirational moments was when we heard from Mr. Elmondo Duckworth. The Duckworths are a Habitat Partner Family who will live in Camshire Meadows. Elmondo spoke about his family’s hardships and what led them to seek help from Habitat. The Duckworths were living the American Dream, but due to a gasoline accident that kept Elmondo out of work, the family became deep in debt and lost their home.
The Duckworths and their six children are now living in a very crowded house with other family members and, as Elmondo put it, “It can be very challenging at times.” Elmondo is currently an assistant manager at Home Depot. He talked about how he signed off on many orders and donations for Habitat for Humanity but never really knew what it was or how it could help his family. And now he is going to be a Habitat homeowner!
I was truly inspired by Mr. Duckworth’s speech and can say that I am ready to go out and start building!
Calli Speakman is a first-year AmeriCorps National Direct member serving as the volunteer coordinator at Pensacola Habitat for Humanity. Her previous work with Habitat includes five mission trips to volunteer with local affiliates in New Hampshire and North Carolina, and volunteering in the office at her local Habitat in Dover, Delaware.