Sara Waymire, senior management major from Miamisburg, Ohio, reflects on the spring break Habitat for Humanity tour to Birmingham, Ala. Waymire is the president of Habitat for Humanity.
Monday, February 26The Work Begins
Our first day began with an early morning orientation where we learned about Habitat Birmingham, which built 32 houses last year and hopes to complete even more this year. Afterwards, the ONU group was split into three smaller groups, and people were given the opportunity to frame walls, build sheds or paint. We only worked until 3:30 p.m., and even though our day was short, the warm Alabama sun had left its mark on our cheeks and arms.
After a short rest, a local church treated us to a buffet dinner where one member of our group managed to sample every dish on the menu.
Tuesday, February 27Perseverance
We spent Tuesday working on the same project as day one. Some of the site supervisors had changed, however, allowing us to work with different Habitat Birmingham affiliates like AmeriCorps members, many of whom told stories about the places they have lived and worked. The cold and rainy weather complicated our tasks today, but our teams persevered and made it through the day.
To relax, we spent the evening playing laser tag, after which a student delivered an inspiring devotion.
Wednesday, February 28Sights in Birmingham
With the entire day to spend as we pleased, many of us took the opportunity to catch up on our sleep. Although the weather was still chilly, it turned out to be a perfect day to visit the Birmingham Zoo and nearby Botanical Gardens. Even though the flowers were not in bloom, the gardens were still beautiful. Afterwards, we visited Vulcan Park, home to one of the world's largest iron statues.
That evening we attended a church service at Shades Mountain Baptist Church, where the congregation numbers more than 7,000. Our group was astounded by the church's size, and we were energized by the speaker's funny yet powerful message.
Thursday, February 29This Old House
Today we shifted gears, working on older houses rather than building new ones. Before new Habitat houses are built in decaying neighborhoods, existing ones are repaired, so our entire group worked together to replace a roof. While some people were cold or tired, or simply scared to be working on a roof, the appreciation of the people in the neighborhood kept us going. It was a blessing to see how our work affected the neighborhood, and it was inspiring to see our group members motivating and encouraging one another.
Friday, March 11, 2008Southern Hospitality
For our final day, we continued to repair roofs, eventually moving on to another older home. Despite the hard work, we were able to bond as a team and enjoy our last day. The best part, however, was the food. Local women cooked a traditional southern lunch: red beans and rice with cornbread. They were grateful for our presence, and we were happy to know we were making a difference in their community.
That evening, as we shared photos and talked about our fantastic week in Birmingham, there was a sense of closeness among people who started the trip as acquaintances, but become friends while serving others. Overall, our trip was successful and a memorable part of our college experience.