March 9, 2011 A.M.
Good afternoon friends. Today is Wednesday March 10. The trip has been quite awesome thus far and we have had a very successful day today. I just want to give a quick-ish sum up of the trip before I proceed to talk about today starting with our fabulous 4 am wake-up call on the first day of this week.
Sunday was spent mostly finding our way down to Miami enduring minor tribulations in the airport but providing for extra time for team bonding. Most of us didn’t know each other that well, but we all became quickly acquainted due to our entertaining rush at 5:00 am as we witnessed JW’s facial expressions as he anxiously drove the Point Park shuttle. The three hour layover resulting from the missed connection in Tampa allotted all of us eager PPU students to get to know everyone’s background story and interest towards the alternative spring break. Following our arrival, a delicious Cuban dinner was provided at Bongos, where we got to further explore all the unique personalities which came on this trip.
Monday was dedicated to a brief orientation and fun in the sun at Key Largo. Initially I came into this experience knowing only one other student pretty well and two others partially well from school classes. Although it was only the first full day in Miami, already I felt that this group had a strong bond and everyone got along really well, sharing the same excitement about soaking up some vitamin D as well as helping out the community. That day individuals were full of energy and excitement for the day’s activities whether it was swimming with schools of fish or seeing the sea from below. After the ocean activities were completed we all filled our tummies while enjoying some fine Mexican delicacies while sitting outside watching the sunset. After the hour drive returning from Key Largo to Miami, some students chose to exchange some money for new clothes or other artifacts native to Miami, exploring the shops and kiosks that Bayside strip center offers. We also got to enjoy live music that was a combination of soft pop rock with a Cuban flare. It is evident why so many different cultures have found their way into southern Florida. Between the different types of food, traditions, aesthetic beaches and varied cultures, the group received a good understanding for the diversity that lives in Miami.
Yesterday (Tuesday) began with a group gathering and prayer devotional by all of the students attending collegiate challenge. We broke into separate groups working on individual houses within Liberty City. Point Park worked alongside with Wake Forest University. Many of us got to know the individuals who attended school in North Carolina which was definitely cool to hear their stories and the different things that their school focuses on. One girl I met was from Thailand and wants to become a world culture reporter and photographer. Another girl I found was from Houston where I am also from. That day I thought about how students come from many different backgrounds and cultures from within each university and how awesome it is that we all unite and share the same passion for volunteer work. Half of the PPU group worked hard in the sun on landscaping outside. The other half worked on the roof nailing and finishing the base of the roof. After our hard work that day, we found ourselves rewarded with a nice relaxation day on south beach. We wrapped up that evening with a meeting where everyone shared their thoughts about the hard work we had completed. I found it crazy how much work was actually completed in less than one third of a day. It seems when many people come together and you work under God’s influence anything can be completed. I felt that most of the students felt the same awe and amazement with that work’s day and we hoped to continue on the same track.
So today, being day four of the trip and day three of working, served as quite a successful day as well. I just want to begin by defining a shutter. A shutter is any piece of equipment which aides to sheltering a house. It can be something as simple as a piece of wood which can prevent blinding sun rays from entering a house. For people in Miami however, this one word is something that is vital to living in southern Florida year round. A hurricane shutter is made out of metal and comes in all sizes. In order to avoid donating 10,000 dollars each year to insurance companies, Miami habitants are required to have hurricane shutters on all windows and doors during hurricane season. On a side note, their hurricane season usually spans from March to October so it’s pretty much mandated to own shutters. This morning we found out that the employees from Bank of America (one of Habitats largest monetary sponsors in Miami Dade County) were coming to volunteer at multiple house sites, ours being one of them. Due to the abundance of helpers at our site, PPU’s help was more necessary at the Habitat for Humanity restore. At the restore, people donate everything from clothes, albums, and books to much larger things such as an entire hardware store and a boat. The restore also has an abundant supply of hurricane shutters, being one of the most popular and demanded items. The issue that the restore has faced is that their (roughly) 6,000 shutters are unorganized in size, ranging from about 2 feet to 20 feet. The task at hand was to organize all the shutters in numerical order so that people will be able to find the shutters they need easily and will purchase their shutters from Habitat.
When we first arrived at the restore sight we were greeted by a friendly and eager employee named Dawn. Dawn seemed completely shocked at the abundant amount of students who were volunteering that day and knew that we would accomplish more than the current employees could accomplish in half a year. He explained how he had never had so many people at once to aide that store and in the midst of his astonishment felt the need to document it with many photographs. After we completed the paparazzi-esque session we proceeded to browse the store and see what it’s all about. We saw many cool items that people no longer felt the need to have and donated. Similar to a thrift store, resale stores are always really unique in the sense that someone else has owned an item and that all of the merchandise has a background story. The store was set up similar to a warehouse like that of an Ace hardware or Lowe’s.
Upon completing the browsing of the store, Dawn gave us directions on how to begin. Each individual metal hurricane shutter was to be measured, labeled, and then taken to be organized and stacked. At this point I was a little confused because Dawn kept directing me to mature something. This did not sound like mature as in to aide in the growth of an object, but pronounced ‘may-ture’. I asked around what the definition of mayturing something was since everyone seemed to understand this commonly known tool word. I was then explained that it was his way of pronouncing the word measure. This was something I found super interesting because he was from Ohio, close to Pittsburgh. I had never heard this type of dialect and was intrigued how even though we are all a part of the same nation this was one example of how everyone is so different even in the way we learn to speak the same language. I love to hear the different way people pronounce things or the way that individuals from different parts of the country have different vocabulary for the same object.
People instantly took action and designated themselves a specific responsibility. I first gave a failed attempt to lift up many metal shutters at once not realizing how much heavier they are than they appeared, overestimating my strength. After accepting that my biceps are not nearly as developed as most of the gentlemen that were present I proceeded down the assembly line to be ‘measured’, labeled, and to make the journey down the warehouse and drop off my single shutter in its appropriate place according to size. Hours later, we had begun to make drastic progress stacking four foot piles of same sizes in proper order spanning about 100 yards down the warehouse wall. The challenges we began to face were the different shapes of the shutters that were not so agreeable with being stacked on other shutters that didn’t have the same exact crevices. This resulted in falling stacks. The excitement definitely escalated when only a few of us were organizing the stacks while people continued to bring us more shutters to be stacked on our already lopsided piles. TIMBER. Luckily, help came in for us quickly and everyone pitched in to make new stacks. I think everyone underestimated the amount of room we actually needed for all of these shutters.
By the time 3:00 pm had come, we moved over 5,000 of the shutters that leaned against the wall into organized numerical ordered piles. The progress that we made was absolutely wild. There were aisles of four foot piles of shutters alongside the one wall of the warehouse. Dawn also found himself astounded. Many battle wounds, minor cuts, and even some ripped cakey pants later, our group was highly impressed with how once again working towards the same goal with your peers can get you anywhere you want. Dawn was so pleased he once again felt the need to capture every moment. We had a second photography session outside to conclude the day. Once he shared with us that our work in that one day will help profit habitat 10,000 dollars that next month we definitely understood and shared his excitement. Our hard work definitely paid off. Once again all hard work must be rewarded, resulting in the improvement of our tans and relaxation in the sand.