“Cherry Blossoms” – Working the 34th Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter Work Project

On Friday, July 14th, I arrived at The Meadows Community Recreation Center at 6:30 am ready to work on site for the Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter Work Project, Habitat for Humanity. I was on time having a moment of quiet reflection feeling grateful for the event. I had a nice small breakfast which included French toast, bacon and hash browns. Then, big groups of people started arriving for the event. The energy was high of excitement for the people who arrived to work on the event. I sat with a lovely woman named Helen who works for the City of Edmonton and Ann Marie who is a social worker. We chatted how we got into participating to work the event. The event started at 7:30 with a devotional service and announcements. It was brought up that President Carter suffered from dehydration that he ended up being taken to the hospital in Winnipeg. People asked about how his health was and his son Chip who is working in the Edmonton site, confirmed the status of his father’s health. He told everyone he was discharged with Rosalynn Carter by his side and was back on site working on the Winnipeg site Friday.

Our group was instructed to walk to the site house we were assigned to. The house we got is House #55. Our site leader was our company’s CEO and President and the owner of Perry Homes. Our group met the owner of the home we were building for and his name is Omar Madar who came from Somalia. He and his wife have 5 children and are volunteers for one of the Habitat for Humanity restoration stores. Once we were walked through safety instructions, given safety glasses and hard hats, we started working. We put up drywall for the stairs, swept through the upper level of the house and put up sidewall shillings. During this time, I felt satisfied and proud giving my time helping Omar and his family build their house. Also, I got to know some of the volunteers working on the house I was working in and had a fun time spending time with them. Our shift ended a bit earlier with a sense of achievement but there was also a feeling of incompleteness. The experience was such a rewarding experience, however, I felt I could’ve done much more. That is why I would think about doing this kind of volunteering again when an opportunity opens up. I wished Omar the best of luck once his house is finished.

I went home to freshen up because I was invited to go to the closing ceremony and watch the football game that night. Alfred Nikolai, CEO of Habitat for Humanity made his speech thanking every volunteer that participated all week and people were in tears. People’s emotions were so high that night that I too, got emotional. And in an unexpected moment, I was invited to be one of the participants to carry the Canadian flag and roll it out in the field when the national anthem will be sung in front of 36,000 people. Despite the feeling of tiredness and exhaustion, I felt a sense of pride moving our flag, singing our national anthem and being a part of such a special event.


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