Saturday, July 22, 2017

Rocking It In Williamston Michigan with HFH

We wrapped up our week of the 'Rock the Block' neighborhood engagement effort in Williamston.  Throughout the week we were involved with projects at six different homes in the neighborhood.  We also had one or two Care-A-Vanner (CAV) teams out at the new build site in Lansing.

It was a new experience for all of us.  Many times we work as a single volunteer unit on one or two homes.  This time, the affiliate had us merry up with new groups of volunteers who came out each day to work on the neighborhood projects.

It was a fairly large effort and Pam and I were very impressed.  The affiliate has a great group of leaders who organized and participated each day.  They marshalled the efforts of a lot of people on all the projects and got us swimming in the same direction for a productive and successful week.

These things don't happen without a great planning and execution.

Kudos to the affiliate for pulling it off well.

It all starts from the top.  Vickie - the Executive Director and lead cheerleader was on site every day.  We don't see that often.  She somehow made time to kickoff the daily meeting and joined us for lunch each day and was exceptional.  Its easy to see why this affiliate is one of the best we've had the privilege of working with.

Next -- the affiliate team (in no particular order) was great.
Sami, the Volunteer Coordinator communicated with us early on and sent everyone a welcome packet.  And got our T-Shirt sizes so we were ready to roll first thing on Monday morning.

Caroline, the 'Rock the Block' project coordinator (she has other roles in the affiliate I'm sure) was the perfect person to be in charge.  She was tireless in getting us prepared from the start.  We had tables set up for each volunteer organization and CAV team each day so they knew where begin.

After the initial welcoming and announcements, we had a brief description of the day's goals and work.  Next we had a safety brief, and headed out to our house which were all within walking distance.

Each site had the equipment (ladders, paint, drop clothes, fencing etc) on site as well as a notebook of information for the house/project leader.  It took a few minutes to divide of the workforce at each project and determine who was going to work on.
     Some examples included:  painting the garage, digging up weeds and replenishing the flower bed, scrape the brick work, removing (demo) the old garage door or fencing), getting on the post hole diggers etc.  There was a lot to do.

Ron was the man.  He was the Construction Supervisor for us and went to each site to make sure everyone got on track early and then he revisited each home to keep the plates spinning all day long.  And then he worked on and off at the hardest site each day to do the difficult stuff.  Some of that included putting up the scaffolding, showing us how to set a true string line for the fencing and getting everything plumbed.

Shawn was a ball of energy and we got to work with him one day on the job that required scraping and painting on the scaffolding and ladders around the house.  He spent the day making sure everyone had what they needed and also hustled all day long.  He was fun to work with and is a real asset to the construction team.

Julie is brand new to the HFH affiliate but got involved early and engaged with our campground in problem solving an issue we had the first day with no access to the restrooms and showers.  Someone at the fairgrounds inadvertently locked us out and she heard us talking about it and made a couple of calls and made sure we were taken care of before we even got back to the campground.  We appreciated that kind of initiative.

The 'Rock the Block' neighborhood effort ended on Friday with a volunteer group from Home Depot walking around the seven or eight streets we were on.  They knocked on doors and asked if they could mow people's lawn.  No strings attached.  A twenty minute nice thing to do for people that live in the area.  Very nice touch.  Shawn headed up that one and they had done probably 15-20 lawns before lunch time.

A very import feature of this effort was the main meeting facility where we had coffee and donuts each morning, our lunches (which were provided every day) and our wrap up end-of-the day meetings.
The Williamston United Methodist Church graciously provided the facility and allowed us to 'take over' their fellowship hall the entire week.  A big thanks too to their Hospitality Committee who served up all the food each day and especially Pastor Julie and here staff.  They were all great.  We didn't get a chance to meet everyone but everyone we did (including Brenda) were exceptional.

Here are a few photos from the week:

Daily morning registration and meeting at the Williamston UMC.
Finishing the painting at the Cedar house.
Working on the garage doors, siding and new door installation on Leasia St.
The owners at the Putnam House and Ron
Work on the Putnam house and garage
Work at the White house on the fence.

 A group shot and work at the new construction site.
At the end of the week we all went out to dinner which was a memorable event.

It was fun, we all got a lot done for the neighborhood and met some great folks.   Pam and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

That's all for now on the Roadrunner Chronicles.  Thanks for joining us.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Habitat for Humanity Built in East Lansing Area

Yesterday was the second day on our Care-A-Vanner build with the Capitol Region (East Lansing and Williamston) area Habitat for Humanity affilliate.

We have 10 Care-A-Vanners on site and we were joining another four groups of volunteers to work on two projects on older homes as well as a new construction effort.  Here is a look at some of the work we were involved with:
Joel and Teri worked on this two day project with local volunteer Tom.  They removed the front face of the garage which had lots of wood rot and damaged studs.  They replaced the studs, trimmed out a new door frame, rebuilt the garages doors, installed the new door and returned the garage to its former glory.

Here Ron (one awesome local lead assistant construction supervisor) is discussing progress and the work with the home owners.

Meanwhile we had a couple of CAV teams over at the new construction site framing and raising some walls.
Vic and Susan along with granddaughter Chloe and friend Addy were on site as well as Terry and Dee who assisted local volunteer lead Denver on the new house.

Pam and I joined local volunteer David and were involved three groups of folks from area companies and churches who painted this old house.
 Not sure exactly how old it really is but they talked about pictures of it in the 1936 newspaper.
 We are part of teams that are working on scraping and/or power washing the entire house and garage and then repainting the brickwork on the house and all of the garage.
The back side of the house was coming along nicely.  We found that two coats of paint is needed and it was starting to look pretty good in places.
Meanwhile the garage was a little different story.  We got two coats on the front of the garage and almost all of the rest of it had one coat of paint.  A lot of work had been done on this house and garage on the first day.
It was a lot of old fashion elbow grease with a wire brush.
 It was another great day on the job.
Dave was nice enough to help us grab a momento of our time at this house.

We are so impressed with the leadership here on the build.  They have really organized each projects so well!  They have materials on site for us and have really thought through the details so the volunteers can get to work.  I don't think we have lost any time waiting on tools or materials.  

Plus they really know how to incorporate new volunteers into a productive work force.  Very well done by the folks at the Capitol Region Habitat for Humanity affiliate.   It creates a smooth flowing and enjoyable atmosphere so where people come out for a day to volunteer from their regular jobs, they can look back with a sense of accomplishment.

Thank for joining us today on the Roadunner Chronicles!

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Rock the Block!

Pam and I are on a Habitat for Humanity Care-A-Vanner (CAV) Build with 8 other RVers.  We have four rigs and are camped at the Ingham County Fairgrounds in Mason, MI which is about 11 miles from our main location for the build.
The CAVs are RVers who show up to a scheduled Habitat Build and participate along with the local volunteers.  The plan for this week is to help neighborhood families with projects around their home as well as working a few days on a new build.
Habitat for Humanity has had a number of neighborhood revitalization projects in addition to building new homes.  The revitalization effort here in east Lansing (Williamston MI actually) is called Rock the Block!
HFH here has engaged with 7 different homeowners to do some painting, mowing, porch and deck repair and a couple of other items.  We are working alongside a couple of different volunteer groups each day to get the projects done and we also have some folks that are working on a new house that is going up on the west side of town.
We broke up into our assigned groups and had a great day of productive work and a lot of fun.

We are off to a great start.  The event is very well organized and everyone on team is enjoying it.

Thanks for joining us today on the Roadrunner Chronicles!

Friday, July 7, 2017

Kentucky State Capitol

We picked a pretty good day to go see the Kentucky State Capitol in Frankfurt KY.  We are staying at Whispering Hills, RV park in Georgetown KY.

We packed a lunch and left at a leisurely time and arrived about 10:00 AM.  The building sits on a hill overlooking the city in the distance.  This is the fourth and now permanent capitol building.

The dome reaches out atop the stately building which has 70 columns surrounding the building. The commonwealth of Kentucky began with statehood in 1792.  Workers broke ground in 1904 and legislators held the first session in 1910.

The exterior of the building is over 400 feet long and 180 feet wide.
Inside, we met the receptionist and assistant who gave us some details about the walking tour and information on what to see on each of the three floors.
The first think one sees entering the rotunda is a statue of Abraham Lincoln who was born in Kentucky.
Looking upward, the beautiful dome with light shining through some areas giving it different colors.
The dome is 180 feet above the rotunda floor.

Another statute:  Henry Clay - Kentucky's most celebrated 19th century statesman and favorite son. I was looking for a little more information about him and the other two statues.  Each was inscribed with names and dates.
There were two other statues in the rotunda: one of Jefferson Davis and one of Harry S. Truman's VP - Ephraim McDowell.

The building was a contrast.  Outside, it looks a little plain though it has a good look to it.  Inside, things change completely.  It is magnificent and open and regal. It reminds me of a smaller and version of the majestic capitols in Utah and Texas.

Looking up the steps to the Senate from the east on the second floor.

This is the State Reception Room.  We were told the governor often signs bills and holds important meetings in this beautiful setting.

The House of Representatives chambers.
Looking into the House of Representatives - the mat depicts the state seal and the state motto: "United we stand, divided we fall."

After our self guided tour, we drove downtown to see the old capitol and to find the replica of the Liberty Bell.  It separate from the main capitol grounds but downtown near the historical grounds

In the back of the Kentucky History Center, we found the bell and its platform.  Kind of out of the way with not much information about what it was and why it was here.

Next to the garden is the old governor's mansion.

After finding the bell, we drove over near the entrance to the Old State Capitol and had a picnic lunch as light rain fell.  Still it was a great day to visit another state capital.  We learned a lot and had a nice time.

Thanks for joining us today on the Roadrunner Chronicles!