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"Today we’ll be teaching you all how to paint"

"Today we’ll be teaching you all how to paint," Roy said.

Roy is the House Leader for a Habitat for Humanity duplex being built in Glendale, AZ. He said this after 100 percent of a crew of about 25 people, including 10 TCGers, responded yes to his previous question (“How many of you have ever painted before?”)

Uh oh.

I think it’s safe to say that most of us didn’t really know what to expect as we made our ways from the comfort of our homes to a downtown Glendale neighborhood in the middle of a full-scale Habitat makeover. Roy’s suggestion that we would all be learning how to paint made us wonder “what are a bunch of software engineers doing painting a duplex at 6:30 a.m.?”

We soon found out that what we were doing was good. Good for us, because hard work builds character, or so we’re told. Good for Habitat, an organization which has been doing this kind of good throughout the world for 40 years. And most especially good for the Basha/Elgod and Martinez families—the two families being given their chance to fulfill the American Dream through the construction of this particular duplex.

Home owners are required  be an active participant in the project, either through “sweat equity” on the construction site, or by working at one of several Habitat ReStores, the Habitat for Hummanity equivalent of a thrift store. On this particular day Mohammed, who came to the United States from Sudan in 1994, was painting the exterior window trim a deep shade of red. Other homeowners in the neighborhood (Habitat is working on about a dozen such buildings on the street) could be seen sweeping, moving gravel, and carrying building supplies.

The homes share a common firewall between the two car garages. Both two story homes have three bedrooms and two-and-a-half bath rooms, with living room, dining room, and kitchen downstairs and an upstairs loft in addition to the bedrooms. Each total about 1,300 square feet and include a modest back yard.

So did we learn to paint? I think we all learned a lot of things on Saturday. Some of us learned that painting stairwell ceilings is not a job to be particularly fond of. Others learned that painting a cinder block firewall takes approximately 3,000 coats of paint to cover (ok, maybe not that many). We all learned that white paint doesn’t come out of blue shirts that well. And at the end of the day, it’s safe to say that we came away with a much greater appreciation for the good work that Habitat does all over the world—and a sense of grateful humility for the opportunity to be just a small part of the good being done on Palmaire Avenue in downtown Glendale, Arizona.

See more about the project on the Glendale Daily Planet website.

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