June 2, 2018: Last year, I participated in my first building site as part of a Habitat for Humanity volunteer experience with the Toronto Trillium Lions Club. I really enjoyed it as I learned new skills and participated in an initiative that has outreaches throughout the entire world.
This year, I was excited to join the Lions again for a second year of building on the same site at 140 Pinery Trail. It was really cool to see that the townhouse complex that we worked on last year (where we did part of the framing for the foundation) was completely finished! It was amazing to see the hard work, time, and dedication of the volunteers resulted in a full usable livable space. In fact, some residents had already moved into the units as well!
Last year, we worked outdoors in the bright and beautiful sunshine. This year, before I even got there, I was hoping for a less physically demanding and indoor space to work. Lo and behold, I actually had my wish fulfilled! We were working indoors all day! 😀
First, we arrived at the 140 Pinery Trail site early in the morning at around 8 a.m. A future reminder for myself (if I return to this site again to volunteer) is to check the registration link for the printable version of the parking permit and bring it with me. That way, I wouldn’t have to arrive on site, park my car, check in at the site, and then walk back to my car with the parking pass to place it on my dashboard to save some time.
Laura was still the site coordinator and I remembered her fondly from last year. She explained all the rules and safety features to us again — basically making sure that we were wearing our hard hats at all times and to take breaks when needed. We wore our full construction gear once again. I remembered how handy it was to carry everything in the construction pouch which didn’t feel heavy at it as it used the strength of our hips to bear the weight.
After the ritual of cheering together for the day (see last year’s post about it), we were divided into two groups. Right away, our group was told that we wouldn’t need our tool belts or hammers and that we would be working inside for the day. Yay! 😀
We headed into one of the units of the townhouse to the second floor. The staircases for these homes are a bit narrow. We learned that we would be learning to install the flooring in for the second floor. So neat and practical! This meant that if I ever have to put down flooring in a house in the future, I kind of know what to do. XD
Our leader that day, Caroline, was very experienced and skilled in the job. I could also tell she was very passionate about it too and made sure that everything was done well and not just haphazardly. We were a group of about 10 and we watched her staple down the sheet that was to be covering the “raw” floor before the actual vinyl flooring went down. (I’m not knowledgeable at all about construction so forgive me for using layman terms when describing the process of what we did. XD)
After the sheeting went down, we installed the vinyl floors piece by piece. I didn’t know that each piece actually fit together like a puzzle! Once the pieces were put down, they became seamless and perfect. Now I understand and know how the floors in my own house are put down!
We had to measure and cut off certain pieces so that there would be some sort of staggering to it too. I couldn’t for the life of me understand the pattern that we were supposed to put it in so I did a lot of observing that day. In fact, our group of 10 actually was more than enough people for this job. Some of us were left standing around instead of actually contributing that day XD. (It actually worked out for me because I was still recovering from a health ailment and didn’t want to expert myself too much physically.)
Before long, it was break time and then also lunch time and we had pizza lunch again! After lunch, we had a group photo.
We also helped to maneuver some more vinyl flooring and doors from the neighbouring unit to move into our own. Those doors were actually so heavy and two people were required to lift them. It really put things into perspective when you handle them yourself.
After lunch, we got to learn how to fill in the odd and end spaces of the floor. It required careful measuring and problem solving skills in order for the entire floor to appear unified. It was also a lot of patience and double checking required by Caroline (who did rip up some of the flooring if it wasn’t properly done to redo them). Some members of our team used the big saw machine to cut down the vinyl flooring so that the pieces would fit.
By the end of the day, we had finished the entire kitchen section part of the floor and also into the other room.
Yay for my second time volunteering at a Habitat for Humanity site! I am interested in volunteering again with a team since every visit results in a different activity and thus experience. 😀
Thank you to Laura who took photos for us and shared them online with us! 🙂