Friday – Nov. 2, 2007 -- Photos of opportunity -- Habitat for Humanity Int'l 1

Friday – Nov. 2, 2007 -- Photos of opportunity

Homeowner Celeste Flores reacts after receiving a symbolic key during the dedication of her new Habitat house.

Homeowners-to-be Gary Wolf and Lynette Robb were handing out thank-you notes to every volunteer they could find while folks gathered for the Carter house pictures.

The Carter photos are a carefully choreographed tradition at every Jimmy Carter Work Project. Their purpose is to make sure every volunteer and every family has a picture of their crew and house with the former president and first lady. But that’s not easy.

The Secret Service has safety rules, Jimmy Carter doesn’t like to waste time or keep folks from building and keeping more than 800 volunteers on new construction houses to hold still and stay in place isn’t easy. However, photos were taken at Vermont (where they were finished 35 minutes before they were to begin!) and at San Pedro (finished only five minutes before they were to start!). Each photo is taken quickly; the Carters, Jonathan Reckford, CEO of Habitat for Humanity International, and Erin Rank, CEO of Habitat for Humanity Greater Los Angeles stop long enough to hand a signed Bible to the homeowners and chat briefly. Then on they go to the next family.

Edgar and Carolina Ruano wore red, white and blue kerchiefs under their hard hats and hung an American flag in their upstairs window for the photo.

“We love this country so much,” she said. “We are so proud.”

Many colors

Paint for the exterior of houses comes in 5-gallon containers marked exterior and the house number. Once the shade of green was resolved, painting has progressed. However, all the homes aren’t green; green and gray are the two house colors chosen by the architect for both the James Hardie plank siding on the first floor and the Heritage shingles on the second floor.

The roofs of the houses have handsome architectural roofing shingles carefully shaped around solar panels.

Inside, the finish paint color is cream. The kitchen cabinets are a natural maple, and the bathrooms each have an oak cabinet and matching medicine cabinet. Each house will have a gas stove, refrigerator, dishwasher and microwave. Pewter trim and dark wood blades are the chosen colors for the ceiling fans in living rooms. All bedrooms have off-white ceiling fans. All of these appliances and fans are designed to cut energy costs.

Rooms with a view

Ten of the duplex units face the Port of Los Angeles shipping channel, giving occupants a view of the ocean. (Some of the other six units have the view from their upstairs windows.) It’s a working class view of the port with ship loaders and freighters more common than cruise ships. But you can see the open ocean in the distance. And hear the foghorns. It’s been a lovely place to build.

“Just think,” one volunteer said. “You could wake up in the morning and see all that.”

Pinned

Some volunteers were wearing their new President’s Volunteer Service Awards Friday. Since 2003, more than 600,000 Americans have received the award. Volunteers at the San Pedro site liked the idea of Barry Pepper announcing the awards. Pepper, an actor best known for “Saving Private Ryan” and “Flags of Our Fathers,” is a high-skilled builder who has earned respect from volunteers and staff by working hard all week.