I’ve volunteered for COVER twice and both times reminded me how much I love being a part of a community and helping others. Below are first hand accounts of my experience so you can learn what it’s like. I hope you’ll be inspired and want to help too.
I Gave My Time, But They Gave Me So Much More…
I entered the neighborhood park of homes and drove around a couple times before I saw the COVER trailer. I pulled into the driveway and was greeted by the crew leader.
He asked if I have experience with power tools and I said no. Not a problem. I was going to learn. Worry and excitement made waves in my stomach as I considered the prospect of injuring myself, but I trusted everything would be okay.
On this project we would be helping a gentleman with water damage under his sink. We would replace a bottom set of cabinets and fix the hole in the floor.
Productive and Proud
There was no shortage of work to do as each person was given a task to do. I tackled the sink cabinet and the AmeriCorps volunteer and crew leader worked inside fixing the hole in the floor. I unscrewed, scraped, and scrubbed.
Soon it was time to face my fear. They showed me how to cut a piece of lumber on the power saw. I watched and then they guided me as I tried. I come away with all hands and fingers and a new confidence in myself that I could do it again, and I do. I measured and attached the board I had cut to the end cabinet to hide an empty space there would be and looked at my handiwork. In the end the donated cabinets and metal sink looked great and were ready to be installed. I smiled and felt accomplished.
Taking a Break
The lady across the street provided a wonderful spread for lunch. We sat and chatted with her about the work COVER had done for her. This was her way of saying thanks. As I ate a potato chip and munched on my sandwich I thought about giving and how beautiful it is.
Reflections on Giving Back
Soon it was time to get back to work. As I carried items in and out I stopped to talk to the owner and listen to his stories like the car he was trying to sell in his front yard.
At the end of the day, I felt I had a part in helping someone who was unable to help himself and was truly grateful for the support. I had given my time and my heart and that made me smile. I couldn’t wait to do it again.
A True Community Experience
Dew still covered the ground as I donned my gloves and got ready for a nice day of work. I was eager to get started.
It was 9 am and after an overview of the project, the crew put me to work unloading supplies from their truck. Soon we had all the wood unloaded and more tasks were dolled out. Who wanted to help with painting? Who wanted to help make the ramp frame? We each took a job and got started.
A Supportive Learning Environment
The AmeriCorps volunteer cut and made sure all the lumber was level while I helped screw the beams together using an impact driver. Both another volunteer and myself make a mistake and the screw comes out the side. No problem. We just screwed in a different spot. Soon we were wielding the power screw drivers easily (I wouldn’t say effortlessly).
The base was built and secure, but it wasn’t even on both sides. A little push here, a little pull there. Nope too much. After multiple tries, and a lot of laughs, we finally got it square. As we worked we learned about the construction of the ramp. Certain requirements had to be met with height, slope, length, and more. I was impressed at their knowledge and surprised at all the details that had to be considered.
Sharing Stories at Lunch
Once the ramp structure was built and secured to the deck it was going to be coming off of, we found our stomachs were grumbling. So we stopped for lunch.
We sat on picnic tables on the back deck and ate sandwiches. Conversation flowed easy, like water, among the crew and the owners. We talked about our jobs, pets, favorite foods, and families. Sitting in the soft sun, I felt a part of something bigger than myself, a true community. We were connecting, sharing, and just enjoying each other’s company and that was a beautiful moment to me.
All Hands on Deck
After lunch it was a team effort to finish the job. Holes had to be dug, posts and cement blocks had to be leveled and placed, and then fill had to be poured. We dug but it wasn’t enough – we needed to go lower so the slope would be accurate. We dug a bit more and success! We were on our way to the finish.
Reflections on Giving Back
The end of the day was bittersweet. We all had shared in an important day of giving back to the community to a family who needed it and I didn’t want to let go of those feelings: accomplishment, humbleness, and joy.
Here’s to another day when I can.
To learn more and see when the next opportunity to help out is, check out their schedule here. Volunteers are needed for both week days and weekends.