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It’s a wrap!

Energized crew members finish exciting week of building
By Stephanie Ham

After hot, sunny days in Los Angeles, we were pumped for a gap day to spend at the beach, the Getty Museum or on a Warner Brothers Studio tour. It’s a hard life, I know, right?

AmeriCorps members took off Wednesday morning to explore the galleries and gardens of LA’s iconic Getty Museum, to stroll along the eclectic walks in Venice and Santa Monica beach and to take a special insider tour of the Warner Bros. movie lots.


Chris Laster (left), Jan Grothe and their fellow house crew members put down an entire lawn of sod and planted flower beds on the last day of Build-a-Thon in Los Angeles, California. Photo by Stephanie Ham


The best celebrity sighting of the week was director Steven Spielberg walking to his office at WB!

As exciting as all the sights and sunburns were, Thursday morning held even more excitement.

Camera time for the cause
At 5:45 a.m., a handful of AmeriCorps members gathered at a Build-a-Thon in Lynwood to be interviewed by LA’s main news network. KTLA and Gayle Anderson came to check out what AmeriCorps and Habitat’s Build-a-Thon was all about, and I was invited to help out.

KTLA interviewed two AmeriCorps members from East Bay Habitat in Oakland, Calif., and Habitat for Humanity Seattle/South King County, Wash. As the camera crews filmed, we dug fencepost holes and flower beds, and painted inside the almost completed home. We were looking beautiful for 6 a.m.!

During all the fun and media whirl, I recorded a quick, caffeine-induced video blog. Check it out, along with a few others.

Thursday was a fast-paced day for all the build sites. We were rejuvenated from our day of freedom and ready to conquer those last jobs! The week was ending and we were hitting our stride. Our days of hard work were rewarded by a quintessential beach bonfire Thursday night. After quick showers, dinner and a camp-like bus ride to the beach, we took to the sand.

Habitat staff members were waiting with two bonfires and s’mores at the ready. Marshmallows were burned and laughs were shared as we huddled around the fire’s warmth. (Fact: It does get cold at the beach, even in sunny Southern California.) It was a great evening, ushering us into our final day of building and final night at the Dodgers baseball game.

Finishing strong
The last day at my build site was marked by two huge deliveries: three pallets of moist sod for the new lawn and tons of pebbles for the side lawn. We laid out that lawn so fast it was done by lunch; it was an insta-lawn! Don’t be surprised — it’s the AmeriCorps way. By the end of the day, we had completed all our tasks and settled in for a heartfelt closing ceremony full of appreciation and invitations to come back anytime.

Thanks were given to all the staff from Habitat for Humanity International and Habitat LA that made everything not only possible, but fun and fruitful. An even larger thanks went to all the AmeriCorps members who came to LA!

The glitz of Hollywood often downplays the larger issues present in the Los Angeles region, but the reality is, more than half the residents in Lynwood and South Gate rent in one of the country’s least affordable housing markets.

It’s a privilege to have such an amazing group of dedicated AmeriCorps members and Habitat staff ready to spend their days and nights to uplift deserving families and communities. Thanks for the beyond successful week and again, come back any time!