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A day of rest?

A day off doesn’t slow these AmeriCorps members down
By Julie Gurnon


Spending a day off volunteering at the Manna Food pantry.


Most of the doors and windows were installed on all six homes by the end of the day—ahead of schedule, of course.


The AmeriCorps members in Pensacola, Fla., got a well-deserved break from building on Wednesday.

Before heading to downtown Pensacola to eat lunch and explore, the members spent the morning volunteering at three community food gardens in Pensacola, through a partnership with Manna Food Pantries.

Pensacola Habitat’s executive director, Tim Evans, had been the executive director for Manna Food Pantries until he joined the affiliate in July 2011.

It was amazing to find out that all the long, raised beds overflowing with fruits, vegetables and herbs were all sitting on concrete, meaning food gardens can be set up even in urban areas. All you need is at least six inches of soil and enough space between plantings to allow for roots to spread sideways. Who knew!

The AmeriCorps members planted trees and potatoes, removed dead leaves and stems from the beds and added mulch to three empty beds that would yield more okra.

Stepping into a shed for a drink of water on another hot day in Pensacola, I met Joel Fisher, 37, a second-year National Direct AmeriCorps member from Habitat for Humanity of Wake County in Raleigh, N.C.

When I asked him if he was having a good time, he said yes and added, “We’re playing in the dirt. You can’t go wrong with that.”

After the community service project ended, I went back to my hotel to write while the AmeriCorps members headed to the beach after lunch. The white sand beaches here really are incredible. That’s why I’m planning my own time at the beach on Saturday before heading to Dallas for the second week of the Build-a-Thon. You don’t come to Pensacola without spending time at the beach.

I returned to the construction site Thursday afternoon, and, incredibly, windows and doors had been installed on most of the houses. I was told that the work has progressed faster than the affiliate expected.

Why was I surprised? This is the AmeriCorps Build-a-Thon we’re talking about.