Thursday, March 20, 2008

I know, I know

It is once again amazing to think that we are a little over a week away from moving on from our Phase 2 project. The time has flown by.

In numbers terms, our project has been deemed a "success" because we installed shutters on 24 homes, surpassing the goal of 20 given to us by INTACT. Unfortunately, they ran out of panels and tracks for us to install or else that number would be higher. The past week and a half have been dedicated, not to installing hurricane shutters, but to several seemingly ridiculous jobs that have our team wondering what kind of help we are really giving the community.

Our first crazy job was painting the home of a woman who is, to say the least, a packrat. In order to get to the back wall of her home, we had to clear away several years' accumulation of junk (expired food, newspapers, books, etc). She would not let us throw much of it away. The stench was quite overbearing at times. It was a sad situation, to see a woman in that state. However, by the time we were done we had little sympathy for the woman because she kept asking us to do things that were not at all related to painting and she was not the nicest of women. It was a frustrating experience because were not doing hurricane mitigation at all and we did not feel that the woman was very appreciative.

From there, we did a little drywall in a Habitat for Humanity home (fun!) and then moved to a library to DUST and a logistics center (wharehouse) to SWEEP. My team was quite disheartened by all of this, obviously. When we are down here to do a specific job and then get pawned off on various organizations to do their dirty work, a team begins to feel a little used.

Luckily, we had a little talk with our sponsor and things turned around. We are not supposed to be doing anymore of the mindless duties. The past two days have been spent on more drywall and it has been a great learning experience. I even learned how to tape and mud walls today... a skill I learned one time in high school but now feel much more proficient at.

As this project comes to a close, I have a lot of mixed feelings. The location is unbeatable--weekends in the sun, on the beach, by the pool. When we were doing hurricane shutters, the days went by quickly and we had a lot of fun and felt a sense of accomplishment. I knew I was helping families for the next hurricane that comes along. SO, when there is real work, it's great. INTACT just needs to find a way to keep its AmeriCorps teams busy with installing shutters and everything is good to go! I just wish we had been able to do more.

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As for the future, I have found out both my 3rd and 4th SPIKES. This is because our schedule is flip-flopped from everyone else--our 3rd spike is only 4 weeks long and our 4th is 8-9. We will have no break inbetween them to debrief... after my upcoming spring break, it's going to be a long haul to the end.

For the 3rd SPIKE, we will be in Angelus Oaks, CA (southern CA but in the mountains) working a fuel reduction project. We'll be living at a YMCA camp and working at another camp...removing everything in a 50ft. radius around every building! Woohoo! It's going to be intense for the body and probably exhausting, and I am very excited! We'll be in the middle of nowhere--the nearest main town is Big Bear and it's 35 miles away. Hopefully there will be lots of hiking opportunities and all around quiet reflection time. :)

The 2nd SPIKE will be a little different. We are headed up to just outside of Salt Lake City, UT to "Camp K," a summer camp for people with disabilities. Campers (adults and children) will stay for 1 week at a time and have...FUN! There is horseback riding, canoeing, swimming, sports, arts and crafts... lots of things to do. Gold 4's role will be as assistant counselors. Not quite sure what that entails just yet but it should be interesting. I am anticipating a lot of mental exhaustion and a lot of joy. I have a feeling that this will be the most rewarding project of the year.

So, that's it! The rest of my AmeriCorps stint is planned out and I am ready to take it on. It will be hard to say goodbye to the luxurious accomodations here in Ft. Pierce, that's for sure. However, bigger and better things are coming my way. :)

PLUS, I am fortunate enough to be able to fly up to Seattle and then up to Bellingham to visit my dearest friend, Ashley, for my weeklong spring break before my 3rd SPIKE. I am so very excited to see her and the state of Washington--it's been too long!

Here are a few pictures I stole from Alicia...

A look at us right after we got to the house... soon to be us when we leave!


Libby messing around with the tape measure


We met the County Commissioner at an ISP (independent service project) and he invited us to use his box seats tickets to the Mets/Braves game...




Putting up shutters!


The joys of sorting out which panels go with what window...


At another ISP where we cleared a trail and then got to lay on a beautiful beach the rest of the day!


Visions of what is to come in Angelus Oaks??


I hope that everyone is smiling and enjoying life! Miss and love you all!

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