Hard to believe but our trip is just about over. Headed out to Cheri’s this morning with a bit of a chill in the air. At least sweatshirt and short type weather. First thing we did was a thorough clean up of the site. I told Cheri that she could have one heck of a weenie roast with all the scrap lumber. With the site looking clean and sharp we began to work on the “pick-up” framing which included framing in old window openings, moving a couple of existing door openings, curtain and cabinet blocking and installing hurricane straps to each and every stud to the rim joist. Larry told us to leave the sheathing to the next crew that comes in next week.
While the students were busy, Verne and I loaded up all the camp tools and put them away in their sheds. By 11:00 a.m. we had completed all we had set out to do for the day. Now for the best part: the signing of the posts. It has been a tradition here ever since the volunteers arrived to rebuild Pass Christian after Katrina to sign the foundation posts with sayings, their names and where they came from. The students could hardly wait. I handed out the permanent markers and let them have at it. Each one left a personal message for Cheri that I am sure she’ll cherish forever.
After some final photographs, Cheri hugged and thanked every one of us and it was hard for her to hide her emotions, (mine as well). We accomplished a great thing here that each of us will remember the rest of our lives.
Larry asked if we could give him a hand at his house with a small project, and with all he has done for us, we had no problem helping him out. He has a beautiful house on the Bayou and he was glad to give the new students a tour. In the meantime, the rest of us took care of the small project and were done within a half hour. We all shook Larry’s hand and thanked him for all he did for us and he did the same to us. He said he was truly blessed to work with such a great group of volunteers and that we we’re welcomed back anytime.
With that, we headed back to camp, had lunch, showered, packed our bags, cleaned our room and loaded the van. We met with Greg to pay our bill ($945 for room and board) had our photo taken, shook hands and said we’d try and be back during spring. We arrived at the airport with well enough time to check in, caught our flight to Dallas at 5:45 and landed in Seattle last night around 11:00 p.m.
There are so many thoughts going through my head at this moment. Who got the most out this trip? Was it the homeowner, the students, Verne, myself?
Hard to say for the others, but personally I think I did. Our first trip was a success, but we didn’t get to complete more than a foundation for Shannon. This trip we got 90% of the framing and 100% of the foundation completed in just 6 short days. We do a home that was basically a total wreck and with teamwork and determination we left a new shell in which Cheri could rebuild her life. Never once did I hear a student complain about the work (sometimes pretty dirty and disgusting). Instead I saw them working towards a daily goal and feeling deeply satisfied in what they accomplished. They all stood back on our last day with pride and joy knowing what they did will make a difference for Cheri. What more could a instructor ask for? I’m proud that I gave each student and Verne the chance to experience what we did. I wished I could have given it to all my students and to you as well.
I like to thank my students who were, Derek Tofstad, Ben Abbot, Tom Louden, Joe Burns, (Mr. YMCA) Galen Castle, Tony Siviltili and Derek Phifer. I would especially thank Verne Cysenky for all his great help and assistance. It would have been impossible to have completed as much as with did without his great help. Thanks Verne!!.
To you here at the college, thanks for reading my diary and for those who gave financial help to my students as well.
I hope that you too could take something away from our experience in Pass Christian. If each of you would try and give some time to help others in any way you see fit, the personal reward is hard to repay. Within our own community of students, or Auburn, South King County, Seattle, or Tacoma, there are many needs that need to be met. There are many venues that you could use to make a difference and if you’re not already helping in some small way, I encourage you to seek out and find a way you can. We certainly cannot depend upon government agencies to take care of the all the needs (pretty evident in Mississippi and New Orleans) but we certainly can rely upon ourselves.
Verne and I discussed the possibility of making a return trip during the college’s spring break and inviting faculty and staff to travel with us back to Pass Christian and once again help build a home for a deserving Katrina Victim. If this is of interest to you, please contact me. If I get enough responses, I’ll pursue what it would take to make that happen.