SpringFest service: Hanging with Habitat for Humaity

Nolin Ainsworth/ Sun Star Contributor

April 29, 2014

Mike Judkins fills in a long-joint with mud.  This chore was carried out by students all over the home. Nolin Ainsworth/Sun Star

Mike Judkins fills in a long-joint with mud. This chore was carried out by students all over the home. Nolin Ainsworth/Sun Star

The mud volleyball courts were still hours away from mayhem when I wrestled myself out of bed and reported to Springfest Service check-in by 9 a.m. There, under the matted Wood Center lighting, I met with the fellow members of my service team while gnawing on my breakfast, a bagel from Lulus.

I had signed up to volunteer with Habitat for Humanity, a non-profit, Christian housing ministry that builds homes all across the world through volunteer labor and donations. Spring Fest Service is a community service outreach hosted by the Student Activities Organization and the Leadership Involvement Volunteer Experience office. It provides an opportunity for students to volunteer around town at an organization of their choice, and maybe pick up a new skill.

This year, in addition to Habitat for Humanity, the program teamed up with Big Brothers Big Sisters, The Boys and Girls Club, Creamer’s Field and the Fairbanks North Star Borough Animal Shelter. Approximately 60 students volunteered in this year’s Springfest Service, according to LIVE coordinator Cara Hollingsworth, who told me she was pleased to see more students come out for the morning. “We’re pretty excited to have more students doing service,” Hollingsworth said, who led the Habitat for Humanity squad. Five students, Cara and I arrived at our project site shortly after 9:30 a.m.

After getting our van stuck in the muddy driveway, we bounced out of the van and strolled up to a three bedroom home lacking siding, windows and doors.  Once inside, we found several people already hard at work. I was handed a waiver and fluorescent orange vest while one of the staff members briefed us on what we would be doing. Our job for the next few hours would be mudding and taping the dry wall.

None of the members on our team had ever done this type of work, which made it all the more lively. “It was a little filthy, but it was all in fun” said Junior Fisheries major, Zach Goeden. The objective was to take the drywall compound, or “mud”, and fill the cracks between the sheets of drywall using a scraper tool, dry wall tape and a little elbow grease. “It’s kind of like sculpting” said Information Technology student, Mike Judkins who had some experience in construction but never this type.

It took me an hour to get the hang of applying the mud and tape to the creases while balancing on a step ladder. The house we were working at was designed and built by a disabled veteran named Ken, who also volunteers with Habitat in his spare time. He needed assistance with this work due in part because of his disability.

According to Jay Bruce, regional director of the Greater Fairbanks Area affiliate of Habitat, the non-profit ministry works closely with disabled vets who have home-repair needs. “If you are a disabled vet and need some help on a small project…we’ll get some volunteers together and help you,” said Bruce.  The vets in turn volunteer with other Habitat projects. Around 10:30 a.m. Ken showed up with his baby grand daughter.

With the wide eyes of a baby that just awoke from a nap in the car, his grand daughter watched us work on Grandpa’s home. As she was toted into the room I was working in, the room that would one day be hers, she cast a playful smile and laughed at me. That was the only approval I needed all morning. To volunteer with Habitat for Humanity with the Greater Fairbanks Area affliliate, log onto volunteerup.com

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