Thursday, Nov. 1, 2007 – Poetry in motion -- Habitat for Humanity Int'l 1

Thursday, Nov. 1, 2007 – Poetry in motion

Amy Stark, winner of Habitat World’s 2007 essay contest, traveled to Los Angeles to volunteer on the San Pedro site.


Poetry in motion

Amy Stark, winner of Habitat World’s 2007 essay contest, traveled to Los Angeles solo to volunteer on the San Pedro site. The second-grade teacher from Whitinsville, Mass., was a longtime contributor to Habitat for Humanity, but this year marks her first time on a building site.

“It’s been interesting and eye-opening,” she said. “I especially like to look right down the center of the site, where you can see everybody moving. See that?” She points down the middle of the common area between 14 of the 16 duplexes nearing final stages of construction. “It’s just constant motion.”

Charmed by the bug

Michael Hansel, a native of Germany who lives now in California’s canyon country, exemplifies the highly contagious bug around here known as Habititus. He’s been driving a shuttle bus all week, carting volunteers to and from the worksite from 5:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. every day. He got a four-hour break on Thursday, so he immediately volunteered to work at one of the houses at the San Pedro site.

“I like to help out,” said Hansel, who had been evacuated during the worst of the California wildfires and just returned home Monday.

“One of the volunteers told me about the nail gun, so I got interested,” he added. Hansel didn’t have time to change into suitable construction attire, so he simply tucked his slacks into his dark socks – never mind the dress shoes – and helped install a kitchen sink. “After driving a bus all morning, it’s good to get up and move a little bit.”

Sidewalk superintendent

Every day this week, 83-year-old retired carpenter Alvin Verrett has walked to the Vermont build site from his nearby home to watch the action during the 2007 Jimmy Carter Work Project. “This is the biggest thing I’ve seen,” he said. “That’s why I walk down here every day.”

Verrett moved to Los Angeles from Plaquemine, La., in 1945 after completing his carpentry training. Verrett has noticed some differences on this site compared to when he was a member of the Local 409 Carpenters Union. “When I got out of the business there were very few women,” he said.

Differences aside, Verrett has been impressed with what he’s seen on site this week. “I think it’s good that Habitat is building here,” he said. “It used to be just a vacant lot.”

Michael Hansel (right), a native of Germany who lives now in California’s canyon country, exemplifies the highly contagious bug around here known as Habititus.


They will know us by our T-shirts
Someone among
the Blogbuilders has a regrettable yuppie thing for latte with two shots of espresso in the morning. So to indulge her one morning a group of Habitat employees stopped—on the way to the build site -- at a local coffee hangout in San Pedro called Sacred Grounds.

We were walking in the door in full staff regalia, which includes a vest that says EVENT STAFF, Habitat for Humanity, Jimmy Carter Work Project 2007 and our staff T-shirts underneath. A young man sipping coffee at a sidewalk table started clapping wildly for Habitat.

A young woman
who worked at the hotel where lots of volunteers and staff are staying stopped me in the hall. She wanted to know what all the T-shirts were about. Her English is light years beyond my Spanish but it took a while to explain. Her enthusiasm grew as we worked through it. Finally she asked: “How to be a voluntary?” She had to work all this week so we looked up the phone number for her local affiliate.

One JCWP-er
had an unfortunate experience with chlorine in a swimming pool before she arrived in Los Angeles and woke up in San Pedro with a green cast to her hair. She called the hotel staff who told her to call Salon Papaleo. Alan Papaleo answered the phone and said, “If you’re from Habitat, come on over.” Despite a full schedule of appointments he got rid of the green and then kindly suggested, “Maybe you could use a haircut?”

It’s a great haircut –and a special gift.