Building Homes and Hope with Habitat

July 16, 2012  |  Leave a Comment

Fifteen months, and not a mark on me.

When I started volunteering at 7555 Mission Street, we were framing the second floor of the first building. Now the third building is framed, roofed and it is starting to look like 36 homes.  It became a family project.  Me, my wife, my son were putting in a few days a week.

I started working full time again and found it hard to get onsite, only coming on the odd Saturday.  I still miss it.  I miss the sense of accomplishment, the noon whistle for lunch, Dawn bellowing “Clean up!” and then frantically trying to make that last cut before the power gets pulled.

A few weeks ago, at clean up I had only three more nails to drive.  There I was, holding the board with my left hand, and swinging my right hand over to hit the nail. What was I thinking?  The hammer hit the nail and the handle hit across the top knuckle of my three fingers.  It hurt, but not too bad. I did a quick assessment: I missed the fingernail, nothing was broken.  I made an adjustment and swung again.

Funny thing about carpentry, it’s all about leverage and rhythm.  In that split second I maintained my leverage but lost my rhythm and the next swing came down on my thumb.  This one hurt.  I try not to swear, especially at Habitat because I am surrounded by good people doing good work.  That day I was working alone.

A blood blister started to form.  It really hurt.  To be fair, I don’t mean hurt like if I was a real carpenter, but for a software guy, it really hurt.

For the next few weeks, I wore my blister as a badge of courage while travelling on business, attending conferences and dining with customers.  People noticed, and asked what happened.

“Oh that?  I got that building hope, one house at a time.”

I can’t wait to get back.

Michael Ciocia lives in Half Moon Bay and has been volunteering with Habitat Greater SF since April 2011. Want to see some of the progress at 7555 Mission Street? Check out this video created by volunteer Julia Jackson.

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