Drive-In Help: RVers Pitch In for Local Habitat Home Building
Precious Watts already had a great appreciation for the group of 24 strangers who arrived two weeks ago, hammers in hand, to help construct her Habitat for Humanity home in Aberdeen’s Midway Gardens subdivision.
A week into the build, her appreciation and gratitude deepened, purely by coincidence.
On a cold, overcast morning, Canadian Carrell Harder was talking about why she and her husband, John, volunteer. Nearby, Watts listened in.
“We retired 12 years ago and have been on many, many builds, but every year we choose to come here instead of celebrating Canadian Thanksgiving and other family events,” Harder said. “Today is our 46th wedding anniversary. We do this every year because these people are family and everything is so fun.”
Tears flowed as Watts listened.
“The fact that this is their anniversary and they are here building my home, words cannot express how grateful I am to everyone,” Watts said as she dabbed her eyes with a tissue.
The Harders are among 24 friends who have bonded over hammers and nails, traveling in their recreation vehicles from afar to apply friendship and fellowship to wherever Habitat for Humanity needs them.
For the first two weeks in October — rain or shine — the group swings into Moore County to work on Habitat projects. This year, the group has worked on serveral projects, with their primary focus being the house Watts and her four children will soon call home.
“We are just working back and forth on whatever is needed,” said group leader Polly Paterek.
The RVers group has come to Moore County for the last 13 years. Many have volunteered with the group for several years, and the veterans of the group, like Paterek and her husband, Jack, said once you participate, coming back is easy.
“It’s about the kids,” Polly Paterek says. “When you see the children pick out their rooms, you can’t help but cry. They become our family too.”
Diane Lapointe said she has never been around a group of strangers so uncritical of each other’s work and who perform their tasks by utilizing the strengths of the individuals in the group.
“The experience is so refreshing and rewarding,” Lapointe said.
Carol Gates and her husband, Dave, are volunteering for the first time. They met the RV group last year while they were staying at Sycamore Lodge near Jackson Springs. Carol broke her foot just weeks before the event and has been relegated to more of a supporting role.
“They have made me feel welcome, a part of the group, like I am doing something useful,” Gates said.
Longtime volunteer John Covert said he keeps coming back for a few simple reasons.
“We (Covert and wife, Carol) have met and worked with a bunch of terrific people,” he said. “It’s like a reunion. Plus, we enjoy the work and we just might be doing some good too.”
Watts said her children, ranging in age from 8 to 16, expressed a little concern about how the volunteers, many of them retired and some dealing with minor physical issues, would be able to get the home built.
A few days into the build, Watts, after being on the job site all day, delivered a convincing message to her children.
“I told them they (volunteers) are good, that they are working harder and getting more done than you do,” Watts said.
And while the volunteers do plenty of work on the job site, they also know how to have a good time too. There are nightly campfires and plenty of great food.
Lunches on the job site are catered by a group of local businesses. This year’s lunch providers included Chili’s, Hickory Tavern, Golden Corral, Basco Sandwich and Catering, Texas Roadhouse, Homewood Suites by Hilton, Precious Watts’ friends and family, John Boyd VFW Post 7318, The Village Chapel and a group of nurses dubbed the Fourth Floor Medical Nurses.
Dinners, which are fixed and organized by Polly Paterek, have earned the two-week build a rather notorious name.
“Some builds are called 10 pounders, or 15 pounders, but we call Polly’s builds 25 pounders because that is how much weight you gain,” said Kari Laubham.
They can all rest assured by the end of the two weeks, they have gained so much more.
Contact Tom Embrey at (910) 693-2484 or email@example.com.
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