Hammer Time

After all this time, you’d think I could use a hammer. Yet, Saturday, I found myself once again poised with the tool in my hand, and once again, I began tapping rhythmically on the 2×4 as if it were the world’s daintiest drum set. With some gentle guidance, the job got done, and in the end, that’s all that matters, right?

The Drake group at Saturday's build day in West Des Moines.

The Drake group at Saturday’s build day in West Des Moines.

The hammer exploit was the latest in my succession of construction triumphs as part of Drake Habitat for Humanity. Although it may be hard to believe based on the above anecdote, I’m entering into my third year with the organization, and it’s certainly some of the most fulfilling work I’ve done at Drake. From work on full build days like Saturday’s event to neighborhood revitalization projects to fundraising efforts, Habitat has provided a breadth of experience in community engagement and volunteerism.

And that altruistic spirit is no sham for the handful of workers who volunteer their Saturdays to build houses alongside others in the Des Moines community. See the thing is, build days start at 8 a.m. On Saturday. And if you’ll permit a little hyperbole, getting out of bed on those mornings is one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. It’s my Iron Man.

But once we’re integrated into one of our build sites across Des Moines, there’s no doubt it’s worth it.  Seeing the physical progress a day’s work makes in creating a family’s new home is incredible. And getting to hear how that home will transform life for its residents from the family themselves is even better. So, although the college experience can so often become about personal accomplishments, activities, and ambitions, Habitat is one reminder that there’s a whole lot more going on in the world than G.P.A. points and finding the right font for your resume. And gaining that experience is certainly worth a few early mornings. Plus there’s always naps.

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