Last Thursday, Lorenz and I decided to join Corazon for their final volunteer build event of the year. While DRN supports Corazon with our lumber donations, we hadn’t joined them for a build in quite a while. I’m so glad we did.
We set our alarms for 4:00 am to allow us plenty of time to get dressed, have some much-needed coffee, and feed our bleary-eyed dogs. You see, the group needs to meet in Chula Vista at 6:00, which is an hour and a half drive for us. Once there, we go over the plan for the day, attach ribbons on our antennas so we know who is part of the group, get our radios and head for the border. The group will caravan into Mexico together, only stopping for those who get flagged into Mexico’s secondary. This happens quite a bit and is not a big deal when you know what to expect.
We arrive in Chula Vista a little after 6:00 am, after picking up Carl Hanson, the gentleman who helps us transport our lumber to Corazon, who will be joining us today. Today is Carl’s first build and he’s one of the sponsors, supplying some the lumber for today. Our group is a small one, only 14 people, but of the 14, 10 of them have hundreds of builds under their belts and would prove to be an amazing team.
We’re building in Pedro Gal and arrive by 7:00 am. We’re met by half a dozen of the locals, who are earning their hours toward their homes. Nothing is given away for free at Corazon. People must put in the time and effort to earn a home. These ladies and gentleman would make up my painting team. The other teams would build the walls and roof rafters. With so many experienced team members, there wasn’t a lot of chit-chat. Heads were down and butts were up in the air as everyone got busy building. By 9:30 am, the walls were up and we were getting ready to put the roof on the house. We were making amazing time. To put things into prospective, the roof normally doesn’t go on until 12:00 pm when we break for lunch. At this rate, we would be one of the “those” builds, the ones we’ve heard about, the ones that are done by 2:00 pm, but we thought those were urban legends because we had never been on one of “those” builds.
When we broke for lunch, the tar paper was complete and almost all of the roofing tiles installed. I’ve never seen a house go up so fast. Wahoo! We would be done by 2:00 pm, two hours ahead of schedule. The last hour and a half was a blur. By 2:00 pm, we were dedicating the house with a blessing and the homeowner, Orlando, was getting his keys to his new home.
I should pause here to tell you a little bit about Orlando. Orlando is a lovely man. He has been working with Corazon for a year and a half earning his hours toward his new home. The committee, a group of local residents, decides who gets the next home based on need. While he was next on the list, no one thought we would be able to provide him a home this year, but miracles can happen. The sponsors magically appeared with supplies for his home and the build was given the green light. You see, Orlando has owned the property for quite some time, but he’s been living in a rental. He recently lost his job and had no idea where he was going to live now that he couldn’t afford his rent. Enter a Christmas miracle. At 2:00 pm on Saturday, December 11, 2010, Orlando, with dimples the size of the Grand Canyon, was thanking us for his new home and the new life that was about to start for him. He said now that he had a home, he could marry his girlfriend and start the family he always wanted. What an amazing day. We were blessed with beautiful weather, skilled volunteers, generous sponsors and in 7 hours, we took a cement slab and built a house. Thank you Corazon for allowing me to be part of this amazing day. It was a wonderful way to start my holiday season.
If you’re not familiar with Corazon, the organization has been building homes and sustainable communities in Mexico for 20 years. They are known for their Build a House in a Day program. I encourage you to visit their website and learn more.
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