Monday, March 28, 2011

The Quality of Work

“Don’t do the work as if it is for you or your parents. When we do work for ourselves we are more likely to cut corners or live without perfection. Instead, work as if it is your grandparents’ house. You would want your grandparents’ house to be done perfectly.”

-Dan, Co-Founder St. Bernard Project

Today we began our first full day of volunteer work, rebuilding homes in St. Bernard’s Parish. St. Bernard’s Parish was severely affected by the breached levee, resulting in many displaced families and 100% of the homes were uninhabitable after the flooding- some areas were under as much as 22ft of water. Our group of six Gann students worked on the home of a family who recently lost one son, and the father and second son are bedridden with illness. This leaves the mother as the primary caregiver and breadwinner of the family. Clearly there is a problem and we are doing our best to help this family out by giving the women a healthy place to rehabilitate her family. Our task was to “mud” the walls, which in the Northeast is known as spackling. We put plaster over the cracks in the drywall in order to have the walls appear smooth and seamless. In order to make the house look professionally done, we needed to pay attention to all the small details and make sure we gave it our all when doing construction. We realized that every small detail counts, and that it is extremely important to make the house look professional.

Next door to the house we were working on was an abandoned one story house. Complete with boarded windows and obvious water damage, the house made a couple members of our team realize how much work really needed to be done, and how many houses still hadn’t been touched 5 ½ years later. The neighborhood of the house we were working on was comprised of approximately half abandoned and damaged homes, while the other half were inhabited. Throughout the work day, there was a scarce amount of people. However, as we began cleaning up, the neighborhood began to fill up with people as kids got off their school buses and residents came back from work. At one point, a few of us were sitting outside and suddenly heard a trumpet. However, we were unsure of where it was coming from. Shortly after hearing the music, we looked up to see a group of teenagers walking down the street with one of them playing the trumpet like a young Louis Armstrong. It was a striking image because it was so out of the ordinary and the boy seemed so comfortable playing it through the streets. It gave the neighborhood a homey feel and really showed that the people living in that area were optimistic and clearly are enjoying themselves despite being in such a trauma stricken place. This day was very powerful, and we truly got a chance to help out and make a difference. We also got a firsthand view of the types of houses that were affected. We look forward to finishing our “mudding” and hopefully beginning to prime and paint the walls!

-Sloane & Matt

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