You are here

Even for a Build-a-Thon alumna, a job well done can be exhausting

By Becky Murray

Becky MurrayAmeriCorps member Becky Murray helped repair siding on a home in Birmingham, Alabama, during the 2011 AmeriCorps Build-a-Thon. This year, she returns to Build-a-Thon to help Lake-Sumter Habitat for Humanity build, rehab and repair homes. ©Habitat for Humanity International/Ezra Millstein

I’m so tired that writing my own name presents a challenge. But I’m determined to stay awake to watch “Skyfall” tonight at Camp Geneva in Lake Sumter, Florida.

After departing Los Angeles last night at 10 o’clock Pacific Daylight Time, I arrived in Orlando International Airport at 5:15 a.m. Eastern Daylight Time. At 6 a.m., I boarded a shuttle to Camp Geneva, where more than 100 AmeriCorps members have gathered for Habitat for Humanity’s annual Build-a-Thon.

As I stepped out of the vehicle, I heard a voice behind me call out, “Becky?” Of course, it was Mike Townsend, a former AmeriCorps member and current employee of Habitat for Humanity International who has mobilized the Habitat AmeriCorps alumni chapter.

This program will create a network of people who previously served with Habitat as AmeriCorps members. The members will have the opportunity to participate in events such as Build-a-Thon, Habitat on the Hill and an annual Global Village trip.

Mike welcomed me and escorted me to the dorms so I could unload my bags before heading to the work site for our first day. This is the first of five Build-a-Thon events this year, each hosted by a different Habitat affiliate across the U.S. Each event welcomes a large group of AmeriCorps members (and now, AmeriCorps alumni) to paint, rehab and build Habitat homes.

At 8:30 a.m., three vans arrived at a row of Habitat homes where we would spend the next five days. Today, the supervisor assigned eight of us to build a fence.

I imagined wood posts, a hammer, nails and paint. Nope. We worked on chain-link fences. I’ve never built a fence before, so I was pleased to learn something new.

Ruffians who often parade through the yard have trampled the current fence. Laura, the homeowner, emerged and explained that people use her property as a shortcut to the houses across the street. They destroy her yard and sometimes steal screens from her windows.

We spent the day digging holes, breaking up cement, rolling wire and resetting posts. It was my first time using a posthole digger, and it took me a while to master the technique of grabbing Florida’s exceptionally sandy soil. I eventually resorted to pouring water into the holes to solidify the dirt for removal.

We wrapped up for the day around 3 p.m. and lounged on the grass while awaiting the arrival of transportation. During the ride home, the lull of the van caused me to doze.

I managed to remain alert until 7:30 p.m. and successfully seated myself in a metal folding chair three rows from a screen showing “Skyfall.” Twenty minutes later, I fell asleep while attempting to watch “Skyfall.”

Becky Murray is an AmeriCorps alumna who completed her service with a Habitat for Humanity affiliate in Jacksonville, Florida. Read more about her service with Habitat for Humanity of Greater Los Angeles.