Last weekend, Scott and I wore bright blue shirts and strapped on hard hats to lend a helping hand alongside dozens of Lowe’s Heroes and countless Habitat for Humanity volunteers. You know we love Lowe’s, but the people behind the company continue to inspire us with their longtime Habitat partnership to promote safe and stable homes. In 2016 alone, they’ve committed themselves to changing the lives of at least 1,000 families by working with them to build and repair homes by the end of this year – just in time for the holidays. By next month, they will have reached that goal.
We were so grateful to have been made aware of this local initiative by our friends at Lowe’s, and we were honored to put in a day’s work to help revitalize and weatherize 5+ homes in the West Pullman neighborhood of Chicago. We were split into several teams to cover a 2 block span, with each team focusing on tasks that included everything from fresh paint to new stair railings to cleaning alleys and yards.
As our first time volunteering with Habitat for Humanity, we were most impressed by how quickly everyone banded together! Each group was provided with the necessary tools to get their respective jobs done, and as we walked up and down the street, we were greeted with smiles all-around. I watched as the homeowners cleaned out their gutters while volunteers brushed stain onto their pressure-treated porch. Overgrown bushes were cut back to neatly trimmed rows, and hardy mums were planted into front gardens.
There were 2 vacant lots that had seen better days, and Scott and I were a part of this clean-up crew. We bagged debris, collected fallen tree limbs and cut down a staggering amount of scraggly, too-low limbs, and within hours, our dumpster was buried beneath a 6-ft pile of leaves and branches! Later in the week, the city would pick it up and mulch it down.
The parking lot of a nearby elementary school was used as a staging ground to create winterization kits for anyone and everyone who needed them. One team spent the morning bagging up supplies – such as caulk, outlet gaskets and weatherstripping – and over the course of the afternoon, they passed the kits along to members of the West Pullman community.
The last several hours of the day were spent mowing the lawns, sweeping fallen leaves and collecting litter from the streets and sidewalks. Neglected, overgrown lots were now trimmed and neat, and homes that began with raw wood and bowing staircases were painted and safe again.
Chicago has been having the most beautiful fall (we were just saying that we can’t remember another time in our 10 years here where we’ve enjoyed the weather this much!), and the cool air and colorful fall leaves kept our moods and spirits lifted throughout the day. At 3pm, we all huddled back together, and our group leaders proudly called out our accomplishments from the day. We applauded and high-fived, and as we said our goodbyes to our teammates, Scott and I looked at each other and agreed, we would do it all again in a heartbeat.