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‘Percolating with joy’

AmeriCorps members, volunteers and a dog named Easy play a role in a dream scenario at the Habitat AmeriCorps Build-a-Thon 2012
By Julie Gurnon


Ericka Boykin (from left), Jeanie Cernosek and Dawn-Maya Simmons — all registered nurses with the Baylor Health Care System — have tended to minor scrapes and blisters during the Habitat AmeriCorps Build-a-Thon in Dallas, Texas. Photo by Allen Sullivan


Future homeowner Genis Rogers started racking up sweat-equity hours toward his own house during the 2012 AmeriCorps Build-a-Thon. Photo by Julie Gurnon


Easy the laid-back dog made a lot of friends during the AmeriCorps Build-a-Thon week in Dallas, Texas. Photo by Julie Gurnon


I made it back to the Build-a-Thon site in Dallas on Thursday, after spending most of Wednesday at the hotel writing up stories and interviews.

What a difference a day makes! Stacks of shingles and siding had been moved into place, ready to be attached to the roof decking and the weather wrapping on most of the houses.

For the first time this week, the AmeriCorps members and on-site staff and volunteers were blessed with a cloudy, cool morning. After lunch, the clouds dissipated and the sun beat down relentlessly again.

Registered nurses from Baylor University Medical Center at Dallas — an event sponsor that also provided all the medical supplies and even some construction volunteers — staffed the first-aid tent. They said that, so far, no one had suffered anything more serious than some splinters, blisters and small cuts.

During lunch, which is held every day in a park near the build site, I ran into Easy, the unofficial canine mascot of Dallas Area Habitat. He belongs to Frank Piatt, a longtime volunteer with the affiliate, and reportedly is a frequent visitor to Habitat build sites.

The name fits the dog. Easy doesn’t get underfoot or bark or make a fuss. He just ambles between the park and the build site, acknowledging people as he goes. At the lunch tables, he has been known to sneak underneath and give your hand a gentle nudge with his nose.

At lunch today, I struck up a conversation with one of Habitat’s soon-to-be homeowners. Genis Rogers, 58, just began earning his sweat-equity hours this week. Standing outside his future home, Rogers said it all still feels like a dream. He worries that he’ll wake up tomorrow and the dream will vanish.

“This is real,” I told him, putting my hand on his shoulder to prove it. “This is going to happen.”

Several times during our conversation, Rogers said that words could not convey his gratitude, that saying “thank you” doesn’t match with what he’s feeling inside.

Circling his heart with his hand, he said, “No one knows how this is sitting right here, percolating with joy, enthusiasm and appreciation.”