My father, in his spare time, was a wonderful carpenter. I remember vividly when he had us three older kids in his workshop at the Navy base. Smelling freshly cut wood is still like wrapping me in a soft, cozy blanket.
Like father, like daughter I always expected. Naturally falling into the job as fix-it-up person around the house seemed to me to be following in my dad's footsteps. So, when the first Women's Build came up last May of 2010, I was there amongst many other women. My partner that day was Norma Wade who was a valiant worker indeed.
When I received the advance notice about this Women's Build, I could feel my blood begin to warm up and my muscles twitch at the thought of another day when, hammer in hand, my inherited nature could again be set free!
Ready to brave the weather, it was with great disappointment I found it had been cancelled for the day. But next morning, there I was - ready and willing. Many women were already there - pounding away. Approaching the site, it was astounding to see how far they had come in only a few hours. About ready to hoist the first wall up, I scrambled to get their heroic first wall on camera.
Then, camera aside, it was time to join in the fray. Hammer and nails in hand, I found the first board in need of care and delightedly swung the hammer out into the sky. WHAM! It soundly found its mark. WHAM! Another direct hit! Yes! I was on a role. Whum! Oops. Missed the nail. Another swing, a sideways glance of the hammer and the nail was bending the WRONG way! How dare it!
Straightening the little piece of metal, the hammer swung out again . . . and again . . . and again. Bending more and more, you could hardly tell which way it was supposed to have gone in the first place.
"HELP!" I cried out. The male foremen that day were saints. Not only did they fix my bent nails but they patiently waited until all 22 slams of the hammer had finally driven a nail in, knowing darn well they could have done it in six powerful hits.
No matter. It was the spirit of the day. To be there working side-by-side of these other women volunteers, there in willingness and compassion to simply do what they could to help another human being have a better life, was a feeling of deep humility.
"I had such a great time last year but more than that I really enjoy doing something for somebody who needs it and will really make a happy home within those walls that I helped construct. Better than that it doesn't get," said Elena Knuira, my buddy in blood blister pain. "Everybody has to have that happy home. This will be somebody's and knowing there's a part of me in it, blisters and all, is what it's all about."
"I'm originally here because first of all I've known Deb Treviño, the interim executive director, for a long time. I'm here volunteering on behalf of our local Zonta Club, a worldwide women's organization. We like to give our time to local things that have to do with women. What better way than to help build a house for a woman in need?" said Deitrah Davis.
"I'm here because I wanted to come and help somebody have a place where they're going to live. I thought I could take some time to do something good for somebody. Today for somebody - tomorrow it might be for me. I don't know. This is what God expects from us - to come and be willing to help," said Alva Pineda, a volunteer.
Hearing their stories, somehow that hammer started hitting it's mark more and more. Walls went up but, funny, walls came down as a wide variety of women worked together to help another human build a future with hope thanks to the Women Build by Habitat for Humanity of the Rio Grande Valley.