Sunday, July 30, 2017

Kicking it Off in Sioux Falls

We had our 'Meet and Greet' meeting with some of the local Sioux Falls Habitat for Humanity staff.  Our Care-A-Vanner group consists of four couples and all four are full-timer RVers.
We have two couples whose domicile and mail service center is here in Sioux Falls and two whose address and mail forwarding service is located in Green Cove Springs FL.
One never knows what to expect and each build is a little different.  Our meeting was held at the Bracco Restaurant and it was great!
We got a chance to meet the Executive Director - Patty Brooks, the Volunteer Coordinator - Jessica Shulte plus more folks on their team as well as their spouses and Paul Johnson - Construction Supervisor.

Other Habitat supporters were there and it was a very nice couple of hours to meet and get to know the people on our end of the table.  It was a lot of fun and the affiliate was very generous to host us their for dinner.

We got a group photo before we started, heard about the work we will be doing (outside siding for starters).
We are off to a great start and looking forward to the week.

Thanks for joining us on the Roadrunner Chronicles!

Saturday, July 29, 2017

An Afternoon at Humble Hill

One of the great things about coming to Sioux Falls is that Pam and I have some good friends who live here.  Pam learned electronics repair in the Air Force and went to technical training years ago in Biloxi Mississippi.

While there she met a classmate, Steve and his wife Therressa, who are from Sioux Falls.  Steve retired a few years ago from the Air National Guard here in town and we've managed to see them many times over the years as full-time RVers.  This time we are in town to participate in the two week Care-A-Vanner RV / Habitat for Humanity build along with three other couples.

And here we are again.  We always enjoy our time with them and got to spend Saturday together.  On Saturday we went to lunch together at PourHouse which is a new sports bar place in town.  We had some great sandwiches and fries.

After lunch we drove over to the two houses where we are scheduled to work.  It helps to know where they are located a little before Monday morning so we aren't late and don't get lost.

Therressa has a brother in Garretson which is a small town about 25 miles away.  Rob and his wife Joan own a winery that just opened for business.  People who are in business for themselves I find intriguing.  It was a beautiful drive out to Humble Hill Winery.
They have a growing vineyard and add rows and rows every year.  I think Joan and Rob said they have eight acres.  Though they just opened, they have been working on the vineyard and their property for years.

Here Pam, Steve and Rob are enjoying the shade outside of the tasting room.  Their place is nicely arranged and a great place to hang out and learn about wine.
 Inside the tasting room, they have created a well decorated and quaint environment.  Rob used timber from his granary that destroyed in a "downburst" that destroyed the granary and what was going to be the original tasting room.
Yikes!  The challenges of the small business person.  And then there was the fire that destroyed the garage and damage the house.  But that is another story.  Despite all that, they persevered and now are open for business.
 Downstairs in the cool temperatures of the basement they are storing the wine in 35 gallon drums and preparing bottles with labels.
 The two enemies of wine is heat and light and so the 5 gallon jugs of different flavors are covered up.
Rob and Joan are a very interesting couple and we are so glad to meet them and see Humble Hill Winery!

Thanks for joining us today on the Roadrunner Chronicles!

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Rocking It In Williamston Michigan with HFH

We wrapped up our week of the 'Rock the Block' neighborhood engagement effort in Williamston.  Throughout the week we were involved with projects at six different homes in the neighborhood.  We also had one or two Care-A-Vanner (CAV) teams out at the new build site in Lansing.

It was a new experience for all of us.  Many times we work as a single volunteer unit on one or two homes.  This time, the affiliate had us merry up with new groups of volunteers who came out each day to work on the neighborhood projects.

It was a fairly large effort and Pam and I were very impressed.  The affiliate has a great group of leaders who organized and participated each day.  They marshalled the efforts of a lot of people on all the projects and got us swimming in the same direction for a productive and successful week.

These things don't happen without a great planning and execution.

Kudos to the affiliate for pulling it off well.

It all starts from the top.  Vickie - the Executive Director and lead cheerleader was on site every day.  We don't see that often.  She somehow made time to kickoff the daily meeting and joined us for lunch each day and was exceptional.  Its easy to see why this affiliate is one of the best we've had the privilege of working with.

Next -- the affiliate team (in no particular order) was great.
Sami, the Volunteer Coordinator communicated with us early on and sent everyone a welcome packet.  And got our T-Shirt sizes so we were ready to roll first thing on Monday morning.

Caroline, the 'Rock the Block' project coordinator (she has other roles in the affiliate I'm sure) was the perfect person to be in charge.  She was tireless in getting us prepared from the start.  We had tables set up for each volunteer organization and CAV team each day so they knew where begin.

After the initial welcoming and announcements, we had a brief description of the day's goals and work.  Next we had a safety brief, and headed out to our house which were all within walking distance.

Each site had the equipment (ladders, paint, drop clothes, fencing etc) on site as well as a notebook of information for the house/project leader.  It took a few minutes to divide of the workforce at each project and determine who was going to work on.
     Some examples included:  painting the garage, digging up weeds and replenishing the flower bed, scrape the brick work, removing (demo) the old garage door or fencing), getting on the post hole diggers etc.  There was a lot to do.

Ron was the man.  He was the Construction Supervisor for us and went to each site to make sure everyone got on track early and then he revisited each home to keep the plates spinning all day long.  And then he worked on and off at the hardest site each day to do the difficult stuff.  Some of that included putting up the scaffolding, showing us how to set a true string line for the fencing and getting everything plumbed.

Shawn was a ball of energy and we got to work with him one day on the job that required scraping and painting on the scaffolding and ladders around the house.  He spent the day making sure everyone had what they needed and also hustled all day long.  He was fun to work with and is a real asset to the construction team.

Julie is brand new to the HFH affiliate but got involved early and engaged with our campground in problem solving an issue we had the first day with no access to the restrooms and showers.  Someone at the fairgrounds inadvertently locked us out and she heard us talking about it and made a couple of calls and made sure we were taken care of before we even got back to the campground.  We appreciated that kind of initiative.

The 'Rock the Block' neighborhood effort ended on Friday with a volunteer group from Home Depot walking around the seven or eight streets we were on.  They knocked on doors and asked if they could mow people's lawn.  No strings attached.  A twenty minute nice thing to do for people that live in the area.  Very nice touch.  Shawn headed up that one and they had done probably 15-20 lawns before lunch time.

A very import feature of this effort was the main meeting facility where we had coffee and donuts each morning, our lunches (which were provided every day) and our wrap up end-of-the day meetings.
The Williamston United Methodist Church graciously provided the facility and allowed us to 'take over' their fellowship hall the entire week.  A big thanks too to their Hospitality Committee who served up all the food each day and especially Pastor Julie and here staff.  They were all great.  We didn't get a chance to meet everyone but everyone we did (including Brenda) were exceptional.

Here are a few photos from the week:

Daily morning registration and meeting at the Williamston UMC.
Finishing the painting at the Cedar house.
Working on the garage doors, siding and new door installation on Leasia St.
The owners at the Putnam House and Ron
Work on the Putnam house and garage
Work at the White house on the fence.

 A group shot and work at the new construction site.
At the end of the week we all went out to dinner which was a memorable event.

It was fun, we all got a lot done for the neighborhood and met some great folks.   Pam and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

That's all for now on the Roadrunner Chronicles.  Thanks for joining us.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Habitat for Humanity Built in East Lansing Area

Yesterday was the second day on our Care-A-Vanner build with the Capitol Region (East Lansing and Williamston) area Habitat for Humanity affilliate.

We have 10 Care-A-Vanners on site and we were joining another four groups of volunteers to work on two projects on older homes as well as a new construction effort.  Here is a look at some of the work we were involved with:
Joel and Teri worked on this two day project with local volunteer Tom.  They removed the front face of the garage which had lots of wood rot and damaged studs.  They replaced the studs, trimmed out a new door frame, rebuilt the garages doors, installed the new door and returned the garage to its former glory.

Here Ron (one awesome local lead assistant construction supervisor) is discussing progress and the work with the home owners.

Meanwhile we had a couple of CAV teams over at the new construction site framing and raising some walls.
Vic and Susan along with granddaughter Chloe and friend Addy were on site as well as Terry and Dee who assisted local volunteer lead Denver on the new house.

Pam and I joined local volunteer David and were involved three groups of folks from area companies and churches who painted this old house.
 Not sure exactly how old it really is but they talked about pictures of it in the 1936 newspaper.
 We are part of teams that are working on scraping and/or power washing the entire house and garage and then repainting the brickwork on the house and all of the garage.
The back side of the house was coming along nicely.  We found that two coats of paint is needed and it was starting to look pretty good in places.
Meanwhile the garage was a little different story.  We got two coats on the front of the garage and almost all of the rest of it had one coat of paint.  A lot of work had been done on this house and garage on the first day.
It was a lot of old fashion elbow grease with a wire brush.
 It was another great day on the job.
Dave was nice enough to help us grab a momento of our time at this house.

We are so impressed with the leadership here on the build.  They have really organized each projects so well!  They have materials on site for us and have really thought through the details so the volunteers can get to work.  I don't think we have lost any time waiting on tools or materials.  

Plus they really know how to incorporate new volunteers into a productive work force.  Very well done by the folks at the Capitol Region Habitat for Humanity affiliate.   It creates a smooth flowing and enjoyable atmosphere so where people come out for a day to volunteer from their regular jobs, they can look back with a sense of accomplishment.

Thank for joining us today on the Roadunner Chronicles!

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Rock the Block!

Pam and I are on a Habitat for Humanity Care-A-Vanner (CAV) Build with 8 other RVers.  We have four rigs and are camped at the Ingham County Fairgrounds in Mason, MI which is about 11 miles from our main location for the build.
The CAVs are RVers who show up to a scheduled Habitat Build and participate along with the local volunteers.  The plan for this week is to help neighborhood families with projects around their home as well as working a few days on a new build.
Habitat for Humanity has had a number of neighborhood revitalization projects in addition to building new homes.  The revitalization effort here in east Lansing (Williamston MI actually) is called Rock the Block!
HFH here has engaged with 7 different homeowners to do some painting, mowing, porch and deck repair and a couple of other items.  We are working alongside a couple of different volunteer groups each day to get the projects done and we also have some folks that are working on a new house that is going up on the west side of town.
We broke up into our assigned groups and had a great day of productive work and a lot of fun.

We are off to a great start.  The event is very well organized and everyone on team is enjoying it.

Thanks for joining us today on the Roadrunner Chronicles!