Jewish teens from Greater Boston, ages 16+, have gone from hitting the books to hitting nails in Raleigh, North Carolina through our alternative spring break program with Habitat for Humanity and AmeriCorps:
Day 1: What an amazing first day we had! After enjoying breakfast at the hotel (southern hotel = biscuits = yum) we loaded up the vans and went to the Crosstowne neighborhood to start working on two houses. This neighborhood is actually familiar to JTI…we built here last year too! Past participants recognized it immediately, and it feels cool to come back to the same neighborhood.
During orientation they explained this neighborhood has around 120 plots, and they’re about halfway through building the homes. Last year Habitat of Wake County build 60 homes, and this year they’re shooting for seventy. It’s pretty incredible and we feel very lucky to be a part of such an operation. Don’t worry, they also explained how to be safe and cautious while we’re building!
After a solid first day that included getting to know each other over hammers, ladders, and foam insulation we headed back to the hotel to relax and get ready for tonight’s evening activity: the NCAA basketball game. We repped Boston hard, but sadly our positive MA vibes were not enough to carry BC to victory. We still had an awesome time, and some of our crew went down to the lower seats and made friends with the band.
I should also mention that last night included an epic scavenger hunt in WalMart as well as a surprise trip to the Melting Pot for dessert. We’re keeping the group accustomed to a certain level of style.
Day 2: It sounds crazy, but we’re halfway through our trip already! We’re really getting into the swing of things at the work site (hammer pun), and today we added more insulation to the houses, installed windows, and a group of us put up scaffolding. It was another warm day, so we’re reminding people to drink lots of water and wear sunscreen (don’t worry, we have some that we bought for use at the site!).
Ellie, Lincoln, and Eamon are the main Habitat people at our site and they’re doing a great job managing the group and coaching us as we build. It’s pretty incredible to think that Habitat’s model is built on working with people who have little or no experience building houses, but we’re thankful an organization like this exists.
After another great day at the build site we made our way over to the Habitat warehouse (conveniently located right near our hotel) where we enjoyed a BBQ dinner with the Wake Habitat team and we got to hear from the CEO of Habitat Wake County, who spoke about Habitat’s work locally and nationally and his appreciation for our group’s longstanding relationship with Wake County.
To cap the night off, we went to Adventure Landing, a local fun park where the group enjoyed arcade games, mini-golf, laser tag, and go-karts. Tomorrow we’re back at our build site and we can’t wait to get to work!
That’s all for now. Til tomorrow!
Day 3: Another great day at our work site, and sadly our last at this site. We finished installing windows into our houses and we got to work with another group who came to volunteer for the day. Tomorrow we’re headed to a new site to work on one of Habitat’s home restoration projects. We’ll miss our friends at the Crosstowne site, but we’re looking forward to painting and more tomorrow.
After taking it easy at the hotel we headed to a shopping plaza for dinner at Noodles & Co followed by walking around the plaza. The group decided that as fun as bowling sounded, they would rather do some shopping after dinner and then relax together at the hotel, so the staff decided to listen to the group.
Tomorrow will be a short day so that we can come back to the hotel and get ready for Shabbat at Duke after we tour the campus. And before you know it, we’ll be back in Boston!
Day 4: Today we were sad to say goodbye to our Habitat friends as we finished our volunteering for the week. We went to a veteran’s house and got to paint it as part of Habitat’s restoration projects. It was a nice change of scenery and it was great to be a part of this project Habitat. I know that Boston is Dunkin land, but our worksite was right next to a Krispy Kreme, a southern donut delicacy, so we had to try some! They make them fresh all day, so we got a hot batch. It was delicious and fluffy…like eating a greasy cloud.
After we cleaned up our paint brushes and put away the ladders, we went back to the hotel to get ready for Shabbat. From the hotel, we headed over to Duke where we toured the campus and heard about Jewish life on campus before going to Hillel to join the Duke community for spirited Shabbat singing, services, and a delicious dinner.
It’s been an amazing week in North Carolina, and we’re thrilled we got to come down and make a difference. This was a truly special group, and we know we’ll continue chatting on the groupme even after the trip is over!