06/19/07 — 14 students help build city house for Habitat

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14 students help build city house for Habitat

By Bonnie Edwards
Published in News on June 19, 2007 1:45 PM

It didn't take David Knight long to find out that putting a roof on a house was harder than it looked.

But he and 13 other high school students from Dover, Del., still enjoyed their stay in the city over the weekend as they built a house for Habitat for Humanity of Goldsboro Wayne County. Several of them said Monday morning they would rather be hammering nails than just about anything on a job site.

After his short stint on the roof, David jumped into putting up aluminum siding at the Habitat house next door. The younger builders had to work at that house, which is almost finished.

"I'm not used to this kind of heat," he said in the morning as the temperature started climbing toward the eventual high in the upper 90s. When the crew left Dover, it was only 65 degrees.

"You get shaky and unbalanced. Last year, I tripped and fell a few times, because it was so hot," David said.

This is not the group's first visit to Wayne County. Last summer, they helped build another home.

The best part, they said, is meeting the families they are helping.

Gary Knight, David's dad and one of the four adult leaders working with the crew this week, said this is the Youth In Action church group's sixth year coming to Goldsboro.

Lonna Massingill is on her fifth trip. On her second, the family who was going to own the home showed up at the job site and worked with the teens.

"It's incredible seeing how you can help somebody knowing you're appreciated for what you're doing," she said. "Getting to talk to them and learn about their life, getting to know the person as a person. They were really friendly and very open about themselves and their lives."

That family was a large Hispanic family. The father spoke Spanish. The mom and children spoke English and helped translate. Lonna was especially impressed with the family's dedication to the project.

"They completed the required time and were working on the house and volunteered the following summer," said Lonna, who returned last summer with a friend to do some house-building of their own.

This is Julia Robinson's fifth year. Her first project was a house on Littleton Court for Maria Rodriguez. They did framing work, put in floor joists and flooring. They put up the walls and laid roof joists. They put up one roof rafter just to be able to say they had started on Maria's roof.

"She still comes to visit us every year we come," Julia said.

"She brought us popsicles every day," said Julia's twin sister, Sarah. The sisters recently graduated from high school.

Sarah is the skill saw queen, knocking off the cuts like a pro. She has been using the saw since her first year when the crew built Maria's house.

"We were four girls and 16 guys, and when you're 13, you like to show off with a saw. It just kind of happened. They liked to shout measurements to me. We pretty much always do framing."

All of the crew members interviewed said they come to Goldsboro to build Habitat houses because it makes them feel good to be able to help somebody else.

Even the younger ones, like Lonna's sister, Rebecca, say the Goldsboro experience is much more than they had expected.

"I liked the job site work," she said. "Then I got home with a feeling of accomplishment that you did something for somebody else."

The Goldsboro trip always makes Will Harron's summer.

"It makes me feel good inside. I know it sounds campy, but it makes me feel like a better person," he said. "Like hammering things in. It gives you a sense of satisfaction knowing this nail is yours, and you hammered it in."