Bonnie and I decided we wanted to volunteer with another Habitat for Humanity (HFH) while in California. Bonnie reached out to several people before she made contact with Claudine Kent who is in charge of Volunteer Relations with the Solano-Napa HFH. When she told Claudine we could volunteer in any capacity for about a two week period she welcomed us exuberantly into the fold! We found out through Claudine their HFH affiliate was in the process of building a group home in Dixon, CA that would house 6 homeless veterans when completed, the first of its kind for HFH. We are both veterans and felt honored to give back to less fortunate veterans who needed decent affordable housing. The Dixon home work days were every other day so the local HFH chapter asked if we could also work at their retail store (called ReStores). So, we ended up working on the veteran’s home job site for 5 days and the Restore for 2 days. Below is a video link to the Solano Napa HFH Veterans Home project. It was made just before we got there.
The best thing about Habitat for Humanity builds is that you get to meet some really great people who work for HFH or volunteer their time, effort, and knowledge to build affordable housing for others. The Dixon build site didn’t disappoint since the lead construction supervisor was a retired Air Force veteran named Joe Grunditz. Joe and Bonnie hit it off immediately since she was also an Air Force vet and they could talk about the good old days on the flight line. Mark Baides was the Project Manager for this important project and he could tell when siding was off 1/4 of an inch and had to be corrected with just a glance. Mark and Joe definitely knew how to build a quality home and they were really great to work with.
Bonnie and I ended up working with a regular volunteer, named LC Naylor, who had retired from both the Air Force and the airline industry and was a very fit and agile man for 70 years of age. Each morning, LC helped start the workday off right leading stretching exercises for the team and participated as a volunteer crew leader. All eyes were on successful construction of this house because it was the prototype for other veteran group homes that HFH planned on building across the country.
We met the Executive Director, Andrew Killeen, who frequently stopped by the job site to monitor progress, give words of encouragement, and thank everyone for their hard work. One morning, Andrew was thanking everyone and he called me and Bonnie out for praise because we were volunteering at HFH jobs while traveling across the country. Although we greatly appreciated Andrew’s kind words we were embarrassed by the attention and felt like we didn’t deserve any special recognition because regular volunteers like LC and others showed up week after week to work on HFH builds in their community. These people were the real heroes who deserved recognition and praise whenever it can be given.
We spent 5 hot sunny days cutting and nailing up siding on the veteran’s home with LC as our team lead. Joe and Mark would check in and monitor our progress and ask us to make corrections whenever something didn’t look just right. HFH homes are built to strict building code with a lot of extra care which results in a tightly framed house that is energy efficient to heat and cool. Leaders on the job site will tell you to rip something off and redo it if it isn’t done correctly. Bonnie and I learned to properly shim and nail siding onto exterior OSB board walls. The toughest part was working on the front of the house because there was a lot of angular cuts on several pieces of siding. Mark worked a lot directly with Bonnie to help her learn about determining the siding cuts needed for different roof angles. It was a great learning experience and we loved working with everyone on the HFH construction crew in Dixon. Here are some photos of the construction crew and the veteran’s group home…
Bonnie and I also worked for two days at the Solano-Napa Restore which is a large retail store that sells donated items for profits that are used to fund HFH home builds. Store Manager, Mike Glancy, welcomed us with open arms and made sure we were comfortable while working in the warehouse. Again, our experience was great when working with many volunteers and staff members. We assembled and cleaned donated furniture and inspected it for broken or missing pieces. Then, we wheeled it out onto the store floor where it was priced for immediate sale. This store was one of the nicest we had ever seen as many wealthy donors from Napa Valley give “like new” items that they no longer want or must get rid of due a home remodel. We actually didn’t get many pictures from the Restore since it was a very busy place with people and merchandise constantly moving !!! Below is one pic we have from inside the Restore and you can click the You Tube video link for an intro about the store… https://youtu.be/AoTPlvHEZQQ
The last Saturday we worked at the Dixon build site it happen to be a HFH Women’s Build day. Bonnie was very excited. She had not been able to attend one of these yet at our other HFH builds. The ladies were kind enough to let me help out as well that day even though I technically didn’t “qualify” to be there. They had quite the crowd and many of the women had volunteered before. It was a great and very productive day. Here are a few pics…
We left our new HFH friends in Dixon, CA and traveled north towards Oregon. Bonnie booked us an overnight stay at Railroad Park Resort near Dunsmuir, CA. This place had a decent campground and also rented out rooms in old refurbished railroad cars. We thought this place was pretty neat and asked if we could see the inside of one of the RR cars. The young lady at the desk said “No problem” and she gave us a tour. Bonnie and I readily agreed that we would love to stay in one of the RR cars at some time in the future !!!! Check out these pics from Railroad Park Resort…
Next up, the beaver state…
Cool RR car. It was great of you to give back to the veterans by building homes for them.
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Great story and pictures. See Bonnie soon. Love Dad
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If you have all your fingers..doing good. Love u both.
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