Service Project

Bam! I hit my thumb.

I’m in way over my head. I haven’t built anything before in my life and now I’m being trusted to help reconstruct someone’s home. I’m in Harlan County Kentucky on an Appalachian Service Project. I hear my dad’s voice “Austin! Come over here, I’ve got a job for you.” I feel nervous. I hope it’s something basic like nailing in some loose boards or digging a hole.

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I get to the front yard where he is standing. “We need you to insulate and underpin the bottom of this trailer.” I look at him as if he is speaking another language. He begins to show me what I will be doing and I immediately know why I was picked to do this horrible task. The trailer is propped off the ground by cinder blocks that only allow someone with a very slender figure to squeeze between. My next three days are filled with dread as I struggled through claustrophobia and insulation covered hands.

After what seemed to be much longer than just one week of work, the family we are helping comes out to say goodbye on our last day. They let us know how much everything we’ve done means to them. It makes everything I’ve gone though in the week worth it and I know I’ll be back next year. Bam! Bam! I’m getting better at this now. Strangely enough, I’m glad to be back.

I know that what I’m doing is for a good cause and I’m really enjoying spending time with the people from my church. We are in McGoffin County Kentucky this year. This house is in worse condition than the last. Today is the first day we are working on the site. Yesterday the staff projected what we should be able to get done this week. Looking around I have no idea where to start.

It’s a good thing my adult leader is a seasoned carpenter. Everyday my group works together flawlessly in order to help complete our goals. By the end of the week we have completed far more that we thought possible. Another great year, I can’t wait to be back. Bam! Bam! Bam! The sticky heat is all I can think about now, but I know I have to finish.

I hear the voice of my adult leader “Are you done with the flooring yet? We need you on the roof.” I respond “Almost done, I’ll be up soon!” It’s my third year and by now I know a thing or two about construction. Aside from the two adult leaders, I am the oldest and most experienced worker on the site. This year I’m in Morgan County, Kentucky where recently a tornado swept through and destroyed many of the homes and buildings. As I get to the top of the roof I see two kids sitting there, it’s their first year on ASP.

I can see that they are looking to me for guidance. I can remember being just like them two years ago. I see how far I have come, my experience has given me confidence. I then pick up an electric drill and say “Let’s get to work!”