EllisNM's blog

Volunteering in New Orleans

Today was one of those great teaching days.  I was supervising half the students at a work site in the ninth ward.  Every student was working at something he had never done before and they were all doing professional grade work.  Of course their speed was not up to pro standards, but they were all using their tools well, paying attention to details, and problem solving as they went.  The ceramic tile, floating flooring and the trim work all looked great.

 

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Volunteering in New Orleans

In the accompaning photo, you can see the most common house style in New Orleans - the Shotgun house.  The name supposedly comes from the ability to shoot a gun through the front door opening and have the bullet go completely through the length of the house, and out the open back door without hitting anything.  This style arose because the property tax was based upon the size of the front face of the house, resulting in long narrow one story houses.  Where a second story is present, it is on the back of the house where it wouldn't be taxed.

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Volunteering in New Orleans

We've been volunteering in New Orleans for 10 days now. We have split into 2 work groups - one working with the Episcopal Service Organization and the other with Phoenix of New Orleans. The first group is installing siding, trim, windows, steps and subfloors. The second group is building all new interior walls, framing for new windows and doors, and replacing termite damaged components through out.

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Volunteering in Mississippi

This last week we had 3 students from last year's program return and volunteer with us. We got a lot of work done on the house and everyone had a great time. A prank war developed involving toilet paper, string-in-a-can, cellophane, and plastic rats. (see 1st photo). One of the returning students rented a paddle board and was out in the bay when he was visited by a pod of dolphins.

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Volunteering in Mississippi

We are back at work in the Habitat subdivision today and so I took the opportunity to take a couple of pictures of the houses we helped build last year which are now occupied.

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Volunteering in Mississippi

Four weeks have slipped by rather quickly for us.  We are 13 senior building trades students and myself as instructor to keep them current in their studies.  We have 2 more weeks of work with Habitat in Bay St Louis, MS and then we move on to New Orleans where we will work with the Episcopal Service Organization.

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Meet Andrew Catlin

Andrew is from Webster, New York and discovered a love for woodworking at the age of 15.  He was inspired by natural building conferences hosted by Peace Weavers in Bath, New York and the YesterMorrow design/build school in Vermont and would like to find a future in natural building and timber framing for himself. 

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Meet Evan Sheffer

Evan is from Albion, NY and enjoys working with his hands.  He came to the Wellsville campus because " I'm not about sitting in a classroom all day."  Evan's grandfather was a carpenter and started Evan out with building at an early age.

Evan has a huge interest in guitars and is a good guitar player.  One of his ideas for after graduation from Alfred is to combine his interests by attending a school for luthiers.  Anyone who knows of a good school or apprentice opportunities for luthiers, please let me or Evan know.

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Meet Doug Baker

Doug is from York, New York and joined the Carpentry program because he likes working with his hands and "building things".  His parents have just purchased a cabinet making business and so he plans on working there after graduation.

I asked Doug why he wanted to come South with us:  "Norm, its NEW ORLEANS!"  He also thought he would learn more from the increased time spent working at carpentry.  Now he's here, Doug likes the weather, the beach, and says he is always busy.

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Meet Bri Gerwitz

Bri explains that she joined Study in the South because "I have always done everything I can to help who I can and this was the perfect opportunity to help people in an area of need." Has she succeeded?   "It has been very heartwarming to meet the people we're helping and I will always remember their faces."

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