October 7, 2014

A Week at the Construction Site

by Reuben Dreiblatt

Weekly Recap

Monday: We had our individual internships at local non-profits until around 12:30.  I have been interning with Sisters of the Road, a local cafe that seeks to create a “space to build community, empower ourselves, learn from one another, dine with dignity and organize for justice and human rights for all”.  Once we returned from our internships, we journeyed over to the Rebuilding Center.  The Rebuilding Center is “the regions largest volume of used building and remodeling materials”. We were there to look around and start planning what materials we would need for the Sukkah we were building at our house. Later that evening we had our usual house dinner and prepared to start our first full work week with Habitat for Humanity.

 Tuesday: The group worked at Habitat for Humanity from 7:30-3:30 and our construction trainer John treated us to the Portland classic Einstein Bagels before we went to the worksite. At the worksite we helped clean up a lot of the trash and random debris that had started to accumulate.

Wednesday: Another full day of work with Habitat. On Wednesday we took down all of the scaffolding in one of the rooms of the buildings and moved it all to another building whilst cleaning that room of the scrap materials. Once it was all clear we laid down Vapor Block, which prevents moisture from the earth from coming up into the building. Later that evening Steve came over for a talk and the RA Shira Gelfand made a fantastic brisket dinner with the help of Danielle Parter.

Thursday: Back at the Habitat site, we laid down more Vapor Block in one of the rooms.  We also organized all the scrap wood that was being improperly recycled, offering it as free wood in baskets next to the road. Baye Miller struggled with the Vapor Block in one of the rooms due to the tremendous heat of the day and the sun reflecting off the white Styrofoam walls. After doing her best, and with my help, we decided to call it quits because the tape that we were applying to the Vapor Block was melting off the wall.

Friday: Friday was a half-day on the account of Kol Nidre in the evening. We spent the morning painting a house that we had partially painted in a previous week for Habitat for Humanity. We still have to go back once more to finish the job. We went to the PSU Hillel for a pre-fast feast and had a small service. It was great to meet the fellow young adults and a few of us made connections to meet up again.

Saturday: Everyone in the house observed Yom Kippur in their own way.

Sunday: On Sunday we went to the Oregon Jewish Museum for Sukkah PDX, an annual juried outdoor design competition with design managers from across the globe.  We helped build different contemporary sukkot.  It was amazing to meet people from Italy who had come all the way to Portland to build a sukkah. After that we made our way home and had a Lazy Sunday afternoon, as many of us were very drained from the long workweek and Yom Kippur.

A Personal Anecdote

On Wednesday the group went to Habitat for Humanity for a regular day of work. In the car on the way over, our Construction Trainer John told us that today would be a grueling day of work as we had to undo all the scaffolding in one of the housing units and organize the parts outside. Then we would have to clean up the area and apply Vapor Blocking.  With the help of John (one of Habitat’s construction managers [another John, jeepers creepers] we learned about Vapor Blocking and its purpose to the house.

I was excited for the challenge and the day turned in to a great bonding experience for the group. We set up an assembly line of people working inside the building and passing out parts to me.  I then created stacks of the various materials. Baye Miller worked on taking out the bolts from the supporting metal platforms that ran parallel to the ground.

Habitat was very grateful of our work that day.  What we were working on is largely considered grunt work, and we did it without any complaints.  Reflecting on how we had come together as a group to make serious progress on an important stage of the process.


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