Friday, September 30, 2011

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Water Studio – Habitat for Humanity Build Day, 9/17/11

Guest Blogger: Stephanie Peterson, Water Studio

At 8 a.m. this past Saturday, a sleepy-eyed but motivated team from Water Studio arrived for our Habitat for Humanity build day in Lynwood. Our group was a combination of colleagues from our small business in Culver City, family members, and close friends with varying degrees of construction know-how. Luckily, we were all on the same page when it came to our motivation: work as a team, give back to the community & make a difference.

The day started with a pep talk from site supervisor, Ken, as well as introductions between our Water Studio group and a few other miscellaneous volunteers.  We then began cleaning out three empty homes which had been neglected and abused in recent years.  Volunteers threw out trash, scrubbed every visible surface, and tackled tasks such as shattered windows and moldy showers without so much as a moment of hesitation.  Once cleaning was winding down, the team separated into smaller groups to tackle paint prep, interior painting, exterior painting, and landscape rehab.  As the day carried on, some team members also helped prep the bathrooms and kitchens for plumbing and cabinetry replacement.

While the work was demanding, and at times tedious, it was easy to do because the experience was all about giving back.  If motivation faltered, one simply had to think of the family that would soon move into a renewed, safe home.  You might say, “But didn’t working for ‘that family’ feel a bit ambiguous and disconnected?”  Well the answer is no, for so many reasons.

First, everyone has moments of need in life – perhaps great or small – and lending a helping hand is something we should all be doing more often.  Second, Habitat for Humanity requires partner families to complete ‘sweat equity’ hours and, therefore, we were able to meet people who would actually be moving into a Habitat home in the near future!  It was inspiring to meet these people and become a part of the ongoing cycle of service that makes HFH possible and successful.  To hear their stories, and the stories of other volunteers, was moving and affirming.

In addition to the partner family, we worked with a freelance landscaper who moved to L.A. last year and came out on Saturday because she simply wanted to give back.  We also met a young man who works for a cable company in El Segundo and has a personal goal of volunteering for Habitat for Humanity three weekends EVERY month!!  His compassion and selflessness reminded us that we did not want Saturday to be our only day of service as individuals or as a group of colleagues.

And so, we at Water Studio thank Habitat for Humanity for our build day experience and we challenge YOU – whoever you may be! – to hop out of bed early some morning in the near future and get to work with Habitat for Humanity!  We will surely be back and we hope our brief story of service inspires others to “build hope, lives and communities” with Habitat for Humanity, too.

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Monday, September 19, 2011

Patrick Diaz Builds to Remember

Patrick Diaz on 9/11/11 in Long Beach
Ten years ago, Patrick Diaz watched from Jersey City, NJ as the aftermath of 9/11 unfolded. Fluffy flakes of paper and insulation floated across the Hudson and a big, black ominous cloud hovered over everyone standing, shocked, in the streets.

Like so many people, Patrick knew someone who died in the Towers – an elementary school classmate, Tonyell McDay. The terrorist attacks provoked a whole gamut of emotions in Patrick and he knew that he needed a way to cope, so he began volunteering. He began by volunteering locally in Jersey City, which eventually led to working for the AmeriCorps branch at New Jersey City University for two years from 2004-2006, under Gary Patnosh.

In March 2010, he traveled down to New Orleans to build with Habitat for Humanity for three days. He caught what we like to call “Habititis” and planned a cross-country trip to volunteer with Habitat for Humanity affiliates in Minneapolis, Seattle and ours here in Los Angeles.  

After that trip, what began as a coping mechanism turned into so much more. Patrick set a goal to volunteer on 100 Habitat for Humanity build sites across the country and abroad. Patrick completed a 2nd cross-country Habitat for Humanity tour, which included stops in New Orleans, Los Angeles, San Francisco and the East Bay.

On the 10th Anniversary of 9/11, Patrick built with us in Long Beach. He is in the midst of his 3rd cross-country trip. Next, he will travel to Portland to build at two more sites and then down to San Francisco for a month of building. To date, he has worked at 18 sites across the U.S., including six in L.A. By the end of this trip, he hopes to have 25 build sites under his belt and one quarter of his goal complete. 

Back at home in Jersey City, he volunteers with New York Cares and has made shorter trips to Habitat for Humanity build sites in cities such as Baltimore.

While Patrick is working toward his lofty goal of helping to build 100 Habitat for Humanity homes, he hasn’t forgotten his other lifelong goal to be a Disney Imagineer. We have a feeling that there are a lot of good things in store for Patrick on his remarkable journey and we thank him for helping us to build hope, lives and communities.

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