Being unemployed, we decided to try to make ourselves useful to society in a way that doesn’t include posting comments on various websites. We decided to volunteer with Habitat for Humanity in Texas.
Texas is a remarkably transient place. In the winter, all the snowbirds from up north evade the winter chill by vacationing in the south. They are known affectionately as Winter Texans. Between the months of November and March, they invade the south and the sale of liquor and geriatric products both go up (as most Winter Texans are retirees). In March along the southern border, Spring Break fanatics show up with kegs and short skirts to celebrate their brief freedom and terrify the locals. Afterward, the local Texans are left reeling from the not-so-subtle transition from Winter Texans to screaming, drunk teens until the cycle starts over again in November.
We woke up at 5:30 in the morning and jumped in the car for the hour long drive to McAllen, TX, where the local Habitat for Humanity chapter was currently working on two side-by-side houses. We arrived and discovered we were younger than everyone on site by at least 35 years. Nevertheless, the all-male group was in chipper spirits as they showed us how to hang drywall. These folks spend every winter in Texas helping Habitat for Humanity. They show up every work day and donate their time and energy to a great cause, without complaining or politicizing. In truth, these were some of the nicest, warmest and most thoughtful people we’ve met while traveling. We worked from early in the morning until 4pm, and these volunteers took only one break and a short lunch break. They worked at a brisk pace that left us, the younglings, out of breath and exhausted. They had lots of little tricks to teach us about hanging drywall, and were so helpful that soon we were well into the swing of things. That day, we finished the entire interior of the house so it was ready for an expert plaster layer to come in. More importantly, we got to know some of the folks we were volunteering with, an experience that left us smiling all afternoon. These folks take, “salt of the earth” to a whole new level.
If you want to donate your time to Habitat for Humanity, contact your local chapter and find out what they are working on. If you don’t have any construction experience, usually someone on site can teach you enough to help out. If you have free time, why not spend it on something meaningful and lasting, like supplying someone in need with a beautiful home.