Monday, December 20, 2010

changing faces

Eliza and me

I'm both happy and sad to report on some changing faces at Habitat. Happy because I'm happy for them and what lies ahead, but sad because I and others will miss them dearly.

Eliza, who some of you may know from the office or seeing her running about at build-a-thons, got married in the fall. She and her husband will spend time with family for Christmas, then do some traveling and mountain climbing(!). I'll miss her especially, because she made my job as Chapter Specialist easy.

Maggie, who you probably know as the assistant site supervisor at Kinsell Commons (and Edes before that, and as an Americorps member before that) is moving to Portland. She's a familiar face to volunteers, and if you've worked with her at a build-a-thon, you may have met her husband, too. I'm hoping to see them both at future build-a-thons.

They'll be missed, but join me in wishing them well and sending prayers for their futures.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

December update

The Thrivent Builds house at Kinsell Commons is almost done! Kitchen cabinets and flooring are in, and yesterday we worked in various houses to install baseboard. We were particularly focused on installing it in the bathrooms, so the plumber could install the toilets. There was a light drizzle much of the morning, so people working outside were getting pretty muddy, but they installed fences between the various houses, built planters for the common areas, and got a lot done despite the muddy conditions.

Friday, September 17, 2010

September update

We're already half way into September, and the houses at Kinsell Commons are coming along nicely. Today some of the houses were being painted, while others (including the Thrivent Builds house) were being prepped for painting -- last pieces of trim, caulking, etc.

You may notice plastic over the insides of the windows. That's because the drywall has been hung, and the texture sprayed on the walls. So interior trim and painting will be able to begin as soon as the remaining exterior work is finished.

We're currently on target for volunteer hours by Lutherans and Thrivent members, and for donations. Thank you for your support!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

July Update - changes and a partner family!

If you've been out to the Kinsell Commons site recently, you may have noticed a big change. Namely, the Thrivent Builds sign is on a different house! That's because house #13 is one of the few 2 bedroom houses in the development, and #3 is a 3 bedroom house. That makes it easier to find a family to fit in house #3, so guess which is the Thrivent Builds house now?

So our new Thrivent Builds partner family is the Lei/Yu family. Currently, Xue Ying Yu, her husband Zhen An Lei, her son Ting Jun Lei, and her elderly mother Cong La Wu, live in a cramped two-bedroom apartment in downtown Oakland. Their son sleeps on the living room couch and often has trouble concentrating on his school work because he has no place to study. Additionally, at 76-years-old, Cong La Wu has mobility issues that preclude her from climbing the stairs in their current building, keeping her trapped in the small apartment most of the time.

The other big change is that it's approaching the end of the 11 month stint for the current AmeriCorps members. Those helpful, energetic young crew leaders you've grown to know and love will be leaving soon. So say hi and thank you to them when you see them. I know I'll miss them.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Lutheran Power!

Representing northern and southern California, and the North Alameda and South Alameda Thrivent Chapters, we've got Lutheran power! Remember, you don't need a big group from your church to come out and volunteer (though that's always welcome). You can come out on your own or with a friend or two.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

May/June Update

May and its surprising amount of rain is gone and we're into June. Progress on the Thrivent Builds house has continued apace. It has its front porch, roof sheathing, and is getting the careful nailing required for shear strength in event of an earthquake. The numbers spray-painted on the OSB indicate the nailing pattern, e.g., 6 inches on the edges of sheets and 12 inches in the middle, all the way down to 2 and 12 above the door. That's a lot of nails!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

2010 Build-a-thon Day 4

A lot of us weren't sure how much work would get done on day 4 of the build-a-thon. When I woke up after 6AM, the rain was coming down in sheets and the wind was gusting -- not great weather for working on roof trusses and not much fun for working out of doors in general. After some pauses, the rain started coming down even harder during the morning introduction and safety talk, with water pooling on the roof of the tent over the seating area. And miraculously, as the safety talk ended, the rain pretty much stopped.

Despite the unappealing weather and the fact it was a workday, we had a great turn out. So many people who were assigned to the Thrivent Builds house showed up in fact, that we shared some out with other houses that had more no-shows. While some people worked on finishing the layout for the roof trusses and sheathing the end truss, another group worked on some interior blocking, and a group of us worked on disassembling braces and moving unused lumber from behind the house to a new location out of the mud. Even though the rain had mostly stopped, enough rain had fallen that it was muddy. But folks worked on despite the messy conditions and pounds of mud clinging to our shoes. After some more sprinkles, the clouds parted and we had sun for much of the day. Hallelujah!

After lunch we stood the trusses and nailed them in place. It was more difficult than on last year's house, because the trusses run the long way on the house and so are bigger and beams above the large front and rear windows meant some of the trusses had to be lifted and set into hangers. A group of us spent the afternoon aligning the trusses and bracing them into their final position.

Everyone stopped a little earlier than the first three days to take the final group photo. In part so we could clean up the work site; it didn't take long on the Thrivent Builds house since we'd spent time in the morning on clean up.

A huge thank you to everyone who volunteered and donated to make the 2010 Build-a-thon a huge success.

More build-a-thon pictures here and on the Habitat website.

Monday, April 19, 2010

2010 Build-a-thon Day 3

Another great work day, with some Lutherans from Zion Lutheran in Oakland/Piedmont and Christ the King in Fremont along with a bunch of other great volunteers. The weather was a little cooler today which was nice.

We put up the interior walls on the second floor, put fire-resistant wallboard on the end truss and hoisted it into to place, nailed off the exterior sheathing, did a ton of blocking for various things, put up temporary scaffolding on the second floor, and put up beams above the front and rear windows to support the roof trusses. By the end of the day, the trusses had been delivered to the top of the house, so weather permitting, we can put them up tomorrow.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

2010 Build-a-thon Day 2

Another great day at the work site. We got lots done, including getting the second floor joists up, the subfloor laid, the walls moved up to the second floor, the front and read walls raised on the second floor, and the side wall built and raised. Plus the stair crew installed our stairs, so we could walk up to the second floor for much of the day. Another great group of volunteers -- thank you!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

2010 Build-a-thon Day 1

The first day of the 2010 Build-a-thon started things off well. We had Lutherans from Resurrection Lutheran, Dublin and Zion Lutheran, Oakland/Piedmont as well as hundreds of other volunteers. Once again honorary Lutheran John Lee was house co-leader for the Thrivent Builds house along with assistant site supervisor Maggie McGann. We got the first floor walls built and stood, rim joists and joist hangers for the second floor up, second floor walls built, temporary scaffolding built, and started putting up sheathing on the outside. All in all, a good day. I'd write more, but I'm tired! A huge thank you to all the volunteers today.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Kinsell Commons

Work is progressing at the Kinsell Commons site to prepare for the build-a-thon in April. There will be 14 homes total in the development; 10 will be framed during the four days of the build-a-thon. The slabs are poured and the party walls built and stood.

One interesting thing about Kinsell Commons is that it's in the middle of an affordable apartment complex, Tassafaronga Village, which is still under construction. So the need for a hard hat starts at the gate at 85th Avenue, before you even get to the Habitat site. The apartments are scheduled to be done soon, so that requirement shouldn't be around too much longer, but until then, remember it's an active construction site before you get to Habitat!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

2010 Build-A-Thon in April

Another year, and we've got another Thrivent Builds-sponsored house! While the family hasn't been selected yet, preparations are already underway at Kinsell Commons in Oakland. The big kickoff will be at this year's Build-A-Thon, Saturday, April 17th through Tuesday, April 20th.

If you'd like to participate, check the Build-A-Thon web page for more information. Remember that this is a fundraising event as well as a blitz build, so there are fund-raising requirements for each day you participate.

And of course you can volunteer before or after the build-a-thon, and help raise funds to build the house.