Pensacola Build-a-Thon 2012 building crews ‘exceed expectations’
By Julie Gurnon
One of the heartfelt notes left by AmeriCorps members on the studs and framework inside Jacara Owens' new home. Photo by Julie Gurnon
I arrived at the construction site around 12:30 p.m. on Friday, the final build day of the AmeriCorps Build-a-Thon in Pensacola.
There they stood: six houses in a row, complete with doors, windows, roof sheeting and weather wrap, ready for shingles, siding and interior work.
The AmeriCorps members worked at a more leisurely pace, having accomplished more on Thursday than expected. The noise level had also dropped, the sounds of sawing and hammering now only sporadic. The 2012 Build-a-Thon was winding down.
The closing ceremony began at 4 p.m., at the end of another hot and sultry day. Shortly before that, National Service program specialist Patrick Scanlan asked me if I thought it was hotter in Pensacola at noon or later in the day. He made a convincing case for later in the day, based on the heat that seemed to be radiating all around us.
Rebecca Kidd, the volunteer coordinator at Pensacola Habitat, worked tirelessly throughout the week, along with all the other affiliate staffers.
“I think there’s a recurring theme for Pensacola Build-a-Thon, and that is that we exceed expectations,” she said.
The AmeriCorps members signed their names on hardhats for the partner families and also signed a large commemorative board for the affiliate to hang in its warehouse.
Alice Jackson, National Service program manager for Habitat for Humanity presented Kidd with thank-you cards and a bulletin board — made by AmeriCorps members — featuring a newspaper article and photos from throughout the week.
The closing ceremony didn’t last too long. It had been a great week — but an exhausting one.
As everyone drifted away, talking, laughing, exchanging hugs and taking pictures, I caught up with homeowner Jacara Owens  for one last photo op.
We walked into her house — fully framed but still awaiting drywall — and she gave me a complete tour. As we walked through the house, we noticed the handwritten messages left by AmeriCorps members. Some were close to the floor; others were near the ceiling. Jacara began taking pictures of the messages, reminders that would remain on the framework of her home forever.