Habitat Road Trip Warriors help build home in Mobile

Published 5:36 pm Monday, May 26, 2008

By By Alecia Curtis Glaize, Executive director of Greater Brewton Habitat for Humanity
Why would a new Habitat homeowner, a college student, grandparents, a heavy-equipment operator, a local retail business owner, a waitress, a nursing home purchasing officer, a minister, owners of a local construction company, and other folks from differing professions, social circles, church affiliations and racial backgrounds take a vacation together?
Why would they leave comfortable homes, jobs, and families behind to spend their days doing construction work and their evenings in an “economy” motel? They have to be a little bit crazy, right?
But wait, there is a logical explanation: they've caught “habitatitus.”
Our eclectic group consisted of local residents so infected with enthusiasm for Habitat for Humanity that we formed themselves into a crew, labeled ourselves the Brewton Habitat Road Trip Warriors, donned matching t-shirts, and spent the week of May 11-16 in Mobile building one of ten houses in partnership with Habitat for Humanity of Mobile and the Jimmy and Rosalyn Carter Work Project.
This is the 25th year the former U.S. President and his wife have devoted a week to working with Habitat for Humanity to build safe, decent and affordable homes for people in need around the world. This year's project is different because instead of being centered in one community, the goal is to build 250 houses along the hurricane impacted Gulf coast, from New Orleans, LA to Mobile, AL.
Our “Road Warriors” crew was responsible for building one of 10 houses in Mobile, getting it to the dryed in stage by the end of the week. The house should be completed by other volunteers within six weeks and ready for new homeowner Tiffany Thorton and her two-year-old son Kameron. Tiffany and her mother, Kim Martninez, worked with us a few days during the week and we enjoyed getting to know them. Tiffany is currently working at and eye care clinic and is studying to be a nurse.
The fearless leaders for the “Road Warriors” are Terrence Breckenridge (of Brewton) and Rusty Miller (of Atmore) who are co-owners of Turning Leaf Development construction company and volunteer building coordinators for Greater Brewton Habitat for Humanity.
Rusty and Terrence got involved with our Habitat affiliate during the May 2006 building blitz and have brought new ideas, energy and enthusiasm to our building committee. In addition to directing the building of two houses and renovating a third in the Brewton community in 2007, they directed a week-end building blitz for the Pike county Habitat affiliate. They led us in meeting the ambitious goal of building a house in just one week this past March in East Brewton.
Terrence and Rusty were recently named Habitat Volunteers of the Year for the State of Alabama.
A few months ago, I was attending a meeting of the Alabama Association of Habitat Affiliates meeting and heard Mobile county's Executive Director Brenda Carson Lawless make an appeal for skilled construction leaders to come and serve as house captains for the Carter project.
I sort of volunteered Terrence and Rusty for the job first, then called Terrence and asked if he and Rusty would be willing. I was relieved when Terrence said without hesitation, “We would be honored to help.”
The job turned out to be even more challenging than they anticipated since the house plan was more complicated than the ones we usually build and there were fewer “pre-fab” components.
We also had fewer volunteers from other areas join our crew in Mobile than we expected, so instead of having a crew of 75-100 workers, we had more like 10-20.
None of us got to be spectators, and all of us learned to do things we had never done before. Terrence and Rusty stayed positive despite the challenges, although after the first day of work, I stumbled into my motel room, ready for a good nights rest, only to discover that my king-sized mattress had disappeared.
I wandered around the hotel, asking my companions if any of them had seen my missing mattress. When I gave up and returned to my room empty-handed, my mattress was back in place and everything in my room was perfectly in order.
It took me a 24 hours to get a confession out of Terrence and Rusty and I guess they considered it payback for dragging them into such a big project.
Although I have played a small part in helping build several Habitat houses, this was my first Carter Work Project.
Honestly, I usually spend more time taking pictures and greeting volunteers than I do hammering nails. Since we had a small crew this time I spent a lot more time working and have sore muscles and a bruised thumb to prove it.
Editor's Note: This article is the first of a two-part story. Additional information on the Brewton Habitat Road Trip Warrior volunteer services will appear in the Sunday, June 1 edition of The Brewton Standard. A photo of President Jimmy Carter will also appear with the remaining portion of the story.

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