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Playing Bob the Builder

The company I work for gives employees 40 hours paid time off per year specifically to use for volunteering, so of course I want to use it. Who wouldn't take advantage of a great policy like that to both do some good and get away from the computer for a few days?

Except, turns out that it's not that easy to use. Everywhere I've traveled, I've looked for volunteer opportunities, but one-offs are really hard to find. Most places require a background check, orientation, and a commitment for a certain time frame. I've volunteered at races, but those haven't been for charity. When I was in Redding, I found an organization that does a lot of trail building work, but the work days are in spring and fall. I was there in summer. 

So it wasn't until I arrived in Winston-Salem that I got to put some of those hours to use. I signed up for a Habitat for Humanity build, something I've always wanted to do. The organization's Forsyth County chapter is at the beginning of a huge project that will have over 70 homes. The first homeowner moved into a new house in August. When I was onsite, it looked like one other house had been completed as well, two were nearing completion (I got to watch how a team blocks off, pours, and levels a new driveway), and one, which I helped with, was somewhere in the beginning to middle stage.

house under construction

Like many non-profit projects I've helped with, it was a bit disorganized. It's not their fault. It's hard to wrangle new volunteers each day when you don't know who exactly is going to show up and what construction skills they have. Which in my case is none. But it worked out. 

I did a variety of tasks including nailing up starter strip for siding, assembling scaffolding, nailing trusses and deadwood for the second story, hauling subflooring, lining window frames with weather-proof membranes, and cleaning up construction trash. I had no idea there was constantly so much trash on a construction site. Wood blocks, wrapping off a million things, bent nails, etc. No wonder they always have those massive dumpsters on site.

house under construction

And I got to meet people and chat about what life in Winston-Salem is like for them. It's important to get out and be social when you're traveling alone and volunteering is a great way to do that. I also made a new friend who I've hung out with post-volunteering, so yay! This was time well-spent and I've still got two more days to use this year if another opportunity comes my way.