By Connie Pool, National Treasurer,
and Corbett Pool, F140306
As we write this, it’s early January and we are parked at Marine Corps Base, Camp Pendleton, California, at the campground at San Onofre Beach. Our campsite is located on a bluff overlooking the Pacific Ocean. We are sitting in the coach’s front seats, looking out the front windshield and watching the surfers ride the waves as they break offshore. Today we dropped off our daughter, Kelly, at the San Diego airport so she could travel back to the University of Tennessee in Knoxville.
As I think back to the events of last year, I would have to say that undoubtedly the highlight was my election last August as FMCA national treasurer. We also enjoyed visiting chapter rallies and area rallies last year. And how do you top attending a University of Tennessee football game at Neyland Stadium in Knoxville with 106,000 other people all dressed in orange?
Without a doubt, though, the two weeks we spent last year in Southern Pines, North Carolina, working with the Habitat for Humanity of Moore County affiliate were the most rewarding. We were with 11 other motorhome owners who are members of the FMCA Chapter: Habitat for Humanity and had volunteered to build a home for a single mother and her three children.
Corbett and I had led a nine-coach Habitat build in October 2000 after the Great Eastern Area Rally (GEAR), which took place in Fayetteville, North Carolina. We were able to work only one week on the Habitat house that year, because the Moore County affiliate had had a successful blitz build just prior to our arrival. The local affiliate’s chairman of the board, Peggy Raney, invited our chapter back in September 2001 and promised us a blank foundation to start with if we could return.
As we traveled around the United States and Canada throughout the year, we recruited members for the FMCA Chapter: Habitat for Humanity and for our 2001 build. Four other couples who attended the build in 2000 were able to return in 2001. They were Doug and Shirley Choate, F186961; John and Carol Covert, F202121; Bob and Sylvia Hicks, F220497; and Bob and Mary Ireland, F230579. We had previously worked in Oklahoma City after the FMCA winter convention with two couples from Canada: Keith and Pat Evans, F197838; and John and Carell Harder, F279367. We met Ken and Paulette Greentree, F155946, the third Canadian couple, while visiting the Alberta Wild Rose chapter rally in Calgary, Alberta, during the Calgary Stampede. We met Jack and Polly Paterek, F215677, because we drive the same brand of coach and they happened to be in the same campground one day. We met Ron and Kari Laubham, F230456, at the Fam Camp at Ellsworth Air Force Base in Rapid City, South Dakota. Of the two remaining couples, Ken and Dottie Shipe, F236580, were friends of the Irelands, and Jack and Gail Dolan, F4046, saw the build write-up in the FMCA Chapter: Habitat for Humanity newsletter.
On September 25, 2001, 12 motorhomes from all over the United States and Canada arrived at the Village of Pinehurst RV Park, C6783, in Pinehurst, North Carolina. By 5:00 p.m. there wasn’t a stranger among us. The group bonded quickly; it was as though we had known each other for years and were the best of friends.
The Moore County affiliate was true to its promise from the year before and provided us with a blank foundation. All materials were on site or delivered when needed. Although our group included a nurse, a bank teller, engineers, a newspaper editor, a caterer, military retirees, and owners of various businesses (trucking, machine, and lumber companies), we all used our talents. In 6-½ days we had framed the walls, set the trusses, installed the windows and doors, hung the siding and soffits, completed the front porch, built the back porch, and completed the roof to include the sheathing, felt paper, and shingles. Since the affiliate had not expected us to get that far in such a short period of time, they had to hustle to find us more work. We moved on to learn the art of making and installing all the flashing on the eaves and porches, and we built 8-foot-by-8-foot storage sheds for several homes. One Saturday we had the pleasure of meeting and working with April Dunston and her children, for whom we were building the house.
Each person on the build had the opportunity to do jobs they had not done before. Our on-site supervisor was excellent and provided instructions necessary for those who had not performed a particular task before. People who had previously not been comfortable being on roofs nailed roofing shingles; in fact, one person, who would not get near the roof’s edge, worked on the roof the entire day. Another group learned more about siding than they ever cared to know. The crew that installed the soffits seemed to have the most fun and quickly earned the name of “Bob Ireland and the Soffits.” Laughter, kidding, and joking continued non-stop on the job site and in the campground. For example, on the fourth day as we were finishing lunch, John Harder directed our attention to the roof, and we watched as the Canadian flag was slowly raised. Not to be outdone, someone quickly raised the American flag, too. The entire incident occurred while a local reporter, Ellen Airs, was interviewing build participants. When the story was printed in the local paper, it included a photo of the flag raisings.
The affiliate was very supportive of our efforts. They provided morning coffee break snacks and also arranged for our lunches, which were supplied by local churches, businesses, and individuals. We had sandwiches made by April Dunston’s mother as well as professionally catered meals. The affiliate and the Patereks also made arrangements for us to use golf courses in Pinehurst, as well as tennis courts and a spa.
Evenings usually were spent gathered around a campfire and relaxing after a day of hammering and using muscles we had forgotten we had. We never tired of each other’s company, and campfire stories usually lasted late into the evening. Cookouts at the pavilion in the campground were the favorite dinner activity, followed by group dinners at local restaurants. We also enjoyed Sunday brunch at a country club and hors d’oeuvres at the Patereks’ condo in Pinehurst.
At the end of the build, all participants were presented with a Golden Hammer pin; photos; and a build participant certificate. Pat Evans received the prestigious Purple Thumb Award for a particular incident that occurred while she was installing the back door. This FMCA Chapter: Habitat for Humanity build will be an unforgettable memory for many years to come.
The whole experience of Habitat for Humanity is what FMCA is all about: family, fun, fellowship, integrity, the sharing of common interests, and volunteerism. If you think you might like to get involved, we highly recommend that you join FMCA Chapter: Habitat for Humanity and participate in a build. It is the experience of a lifetime.
For information about the FMCA Chapter: Habitat For Humanity, contact chapter secretary Wally Starz at firstname.lastname@example.org or (602) 300-4550. Or, visit the chapter’s Web site: fmca-hfh.com