Waking up with a slight sunburn, sore arms from day #1, and a smile on my face, I was ready for day #2. I was anxious to work with Habitat for Humanity, knowing the work is focused on broken homes. I have a little experience with flooded houses. Seeing the devastation in the community and only being able to start the rebuilding can be tough. However, the day ahead held great memories and experiences I will never forget.

We arrived on the worksite around 8:30 a.m. and were prepared for the hard work. Driving into Marathon, although the water was beautiful, the community was clearly affected by Hurricane Irma. Signs were down and mobile homes were visibly damaged. The specific house my group was at was a prime example of the hurricane’s effects. It was a dainty mobile home that belonged to a lovely lady named Lois. Lois was 83 years old and had lived in this particular house for 42 years. Because of the hurricane, her house was not safe to live in. Therefore, she was forced to move constantly and settle with many friends and relatives. The work on her house has been slow, but the hope is to finish in the next year or so.

They instantly put us to work moving tools and random items out of the house in order to clear space. Then we spent an hour or two sweeping and scraping plaster off of the floor. Quickly the team’s efforts surpassed the work available, so the team split up while the remainder waited for new instructions. Soon we were able to drill screws and secure the floor, preparing the house for a new laminate tile.

Patience played a major role in today’s work. I learned that recovery cannot happen in one day. It takes a lot of preparation, team work, a various amount of tools, motivation, and patience. I also learned to make the best of your situation and have the best attitude you can. Although Lois lost her home temporarily and has had to move all over, she was still hopeful and patient that hard work would help her achieve a new home.

I have been so grateful for this experience so far. Creating new relationships and restoring a tiny bit of hope is very rewarding. I cannot wait for the rest of the week, and most importantly, I cannot wait to take these skills and memories back home.

– Paige Kaser