Today was our last day at the house-building site. The morning temperature was just a bit below freezing. However, it was sunny and quiet. As I was riding in the passenger van with my fellow teammates, I was wondering how our last working shift would unfold in front of us. From the experience of the past few days, I knew the reality of homebuilding is not as same as the process I read about in manuals. I was wondering what possible challenging "surprises" my shift might bring to me.

Lourdes students and staff members have worked with Blount County, TN Habitat for Humanity team members for the last four days. Many Tennessean homebuilding volunteers are retired professionals with diverse career backgrounds that are not necessarily related to the building industry. However, many of these volunteers are seasoned members of the Habitat team. They spent years learning the art and craft of homebuilding. As a result, they gained knowledge and skills that cannot be easily found in printed homebuilding manuals. Yet those skills did not make them self-absorbed and pompous individuals. I knew that I would usually find solid support from many of these seasoned volunteers if the need arose.

I was correct. Soon enough, the team I was assigned to had experienced technical difficulties in the process of raising the scaffolding, a structure that supports homebuilders when they work at-height outside of a house. One of the crucially important parts of this raising process is checking for proper leveling of the structure. As our team was raising it, we followed typical procedure. However, for some reason our team was unable to properly level up the last section of the structure. We were puzzled as we were unable to find the reason for our problem. We asked for the advice of one of the seasoned volunteers.

In a very friendly voice, he told us that he would be glad to help us as much as he could. As he gave us various suggestions, we learned much more advanced skills related to our task. Still, we weren't able to level up the last section. The volunteers, my teammates and I had talked to a few other people and to the site supervisor about our struggle. It became apparent that we would have to stop our work until more skilled volunteers and the site supervisor could figure out the problem. I was somewhat upset and, at the same time, surprised how friendly and calm the site supervisor remained as he learned about our struggles. He was obviously as much concerned about healthy interactions among the team members as with technical tasks assigned to the entire team.

Sergey on Habitat Lourdes team

The rest of the day went smoothly. I helped my classmates to perform various assignments. As the sun rose higher and higher, so did the temperature. At noon, it was near 60 degrees. Our shift was over. I met many new friends from the Blount County Habitat for Humanity team. I knew that tomorrow my fellow Lourdes students and staff members will have to go back to Toledo. We needed to say "Goodbye" to our new friends. I realized how close we had become in these past five days.

I do not know how my life will unfold. I do know, however, that I found new reliable friends I can depend upon at the Blount County Habitat for Humanity team.