Day 3 - New Orleans

It's our final build day. Its kind of sad. I really want to stay and finish the job, see it through. It's amazing how connected you feel to the project your working on. Feeling a sense of pride and excitement for the family who will live here.  Everyone fell into a rhythm with their jobs and worked hard to get as much done as possible. The kids worked so diligently on their painting. Seeing them so passionate about what they were doing and really understanding that this house is going to make a HOME for someone. It was so moving.

Billie joe, jason and mark worked on soffit again, this time on the side of the house with some pretty tall ladders. Man, those guys busted their booties to get that soffit up. I think that they - by FAR- had the hardest job of the week. 
It was just three days. Three days! And we made huge progress on the home for that single mother and her daughter. Those three days will help to change those lives.  That's what its all about.
I have to thank the Americore people we worked with- thanks ben, jolene and sam!! You were awesome! And I want to thank our Habitat team, especially Ali and Alison.  You made our build, truly an experience!  thank you beckers and whites! I can't wait for the next build...


Our final day! I have to tell ya'll that Jason was talking about the soffit in his sleep! That's the word of the week- soffit! Anyway, I spent our final day painting, going crazy with the detail work trying to make it look perfect!

These 3 days have been so fun and inspiring. I'm proud of everyone, especially the kids- 6 in all, including the Becker clan (Armstrong family friends.) They all wore brown matching Carhart overalls and boots, and at one point, they were all standing in a line painting the side of the house. Super cute!  And they spent hours upon hours diligently preparing a beautiful sandbox for the little girl of the family.

We didn't get to meet the homeowner of the house we worked on, but we did meet the kind lady from across the street (she let us use her waterhose-holla!) and we also met a newly accepted homeowner who came to tell Ben (site supervisor) that he'd gotten his acceptance letter. He was so excited, and his enthusiasm was contagious. He was waving his letter around, smiling so big!  We were so happy for him.

I feel so honored to have been a part of this and I am truly moved by the enormous impact that Habitat makes on people's lives. And thank you Armstrongs-good call!

Billie Joe:

It was our last day and I really wanted to bust ass to get some work done. Its definitely been a learning experience. I've never worked on a house before so I have a new respect for the labor involved. Mark, Jason, and I finished our part of building the soffit. Everywhere I look now, I see soffit.
I want to come back and build again. I recommend it to everyone. It not only builds a home for a stranger, but it also builds a home for your soul.


Jason White:
Last day for us helping with the house.  Day two was frustrating.  Billie & I, awkwardly high up on ladders around the side of the house,   replanning, correcting and rethinking our approach.  As we left, I didn't feel as though we got enough done.  But, we set ourselves up for a much more productive day today.  A great feeling of accomplishment at the end - making one small step forward.  It is, in some small way, how the rebuilding of this great city of New Orleans goes.  Some days are frustrating and defeating.  Some days you move ahead. 

I just hope no one will forget what this place and these people have been through.  I will not.


Day 2 - New Orleans


The morning started off misty and I was hoping it wouldn't rain so we could work outside today. We arrived around 9:30am. Yay! We were able to sleep a little extra.

Everyone jumped right in to find a project to work on. I chose painting since the weather was good and I was ready to see some visible progress.. Janna,Marki and I worked all day on the front of the house and the trim. Its like painting a fairy cottage - its colors grey with pink trim. The woman and her daughter who are moving in chose those colors! They are perfect for this house. Marki has a sprained ankle that is puffy and bruised yet she worked all day with a smile. And janna- well- she is a sunshine smile always!

We had a mid-day highlight as an ice cream truck came by. Jakob and cade heard the music blocks before it came down our street. We all were excited to get popsicles and stuff.

Towards the end of the day as we were nearing the finish of the front, I suddenely had a rush of emotion. I felt so connected to this work we are doing. Working with our hands, sweating in the sun and helping to provide a place to call home for this special woman and her daughter.

Today was awesome! I was part of the painting crew, informally headed by Adrienne. She's a great cheerleader and motivator, and I don't think she stopped working at all today. We painted the front of the house gray with pink trim, as requested by the homeowner. I have to say, painting is a lot harder than I thought it would be, especially for a very sloppy person like me. (I had to be neat!) But today what struck me most was the dedication and enthusiasm of everyone- our group is perhaps the most cheerful group of folks anywhere, and I'm very humbled by this experience and grateful that I am able to help.

And the Americorps volunteers we are working with are so inspiring to me . These are young people who volunteer a year of service to organizations like Habitat for Humanity. Daily, we work with Ben, Jolene and sam and they are all encouaging and supportive. And I have to give a shout out to my husband Jason and to Billie Joe, who have spent the past two days sweating it out on ladders, installing something called soffit. Painting is hard work, but I'll take that over the soffit anyday!!!

Billie Joe:

Today was a great day. The house is really coming together. It was great to see everyone busting their asses to get this house together. I asked Ben how long it took so far for the house to get put up at this point. He said 8 weeks!! That's incredible. He's also taking the extra scraps of lumber and reusing it into green building.

Another special moment today was the ice cream truck passing by. All the kids (and grownups) ran the truck down for a hot afternoon treat. The ice cream truck music had a bit of a 808 drumbeat to it so everyone was kind of dancing as they were eating snow cones.

Adrienne's painting looks really great. The owner of the house picked great colors.

And I don't know about you, Jason, but I think I'll be dreaming about extremely high ladders and soffit for the rest of my life!!

Come back tomorrow for Day #3!

Billie Joe and family are currently in New Orleans volunteering their time to Habitat For Humanity.  Each day they are going to send us an update with pictures of how their day went. Check back each day for updates!

Day 1 - New Orleans

Adrienne : Its early. Really early. We are still on California time. So its 4:30am.  Today is our first day of building. Everyone is fired up and excited to start !  We are heading to a safety training/welcome  before we begin our day with Habitat for Humanity.
New Orleans is an unforgettable city. The people are warm and welcoming and the hospitality is unparalled.

We just had our safety meeting and its raining. We are going to drive to our site with our construction leader (Ben).  The home we are working on has been in construction for 9 weeks with 2 weeks left!

Janna:  I spent a few minutes chatting with a neighbor who is also a Habitat homeowner..  She was so open and friendly, with a beautiful smile and awesome New Orleans accent.   As we stood on her porch, she told me that her house only lost 2 panels in the hurricane and had only a couple of inches of flooding, a testament to how well built these houses are! I'm hoping the house we're helping to build is as strong!

Billie Joe: Today we worked at the upper 9th ward. I hung soffit over the front porch. I had to do some upside down hammering technique but we managed to get the job done. We felt a great sense of accomplishment when we  finished. Before I nailed the last piece of soffit , I reached inside and wrote my name with a pencil and dated it.. Ben is a great construction leader. Jason was a great partner.. It was amazing to see everyone getting their hands dirty in good conscience, working together for the greater good.

Jason: New Orleans has long been one of my favorite cities on the planet. It's really good to be back, and in some way, to try and help rebuild the city. I have no prior skills in construction and am not considered "handy" whatsoever.  But today I learned enough to help put in the soffit over the front porch.  Didn't know what it was until today in fact.  A new word, a new skill.  Looking forward to tomorrow!


(Day #1 photos by George Long)

Come back tomorrow for Day #2!