Who to Call In Case of Mud

Trip Start Feb 07, 2012
Trip End Nov 15, 2012

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Flag of United States  , Maine
Sunday, April 1, 2012

I'm skipping ahead a bit here as there are only 2 ˝ weeks left before we head "home" to Maryland!

Sunday the 11th  , the team welcomed to Maine two of our firefighters, Mike and Erick, coming from a week of fire training in North Carolina. The past two weeks have gone by in a flurry as we’ve continued weatherization projects, detail work on a new build, and working at the ReStore. Lots of painting! The ReStore hasn’t been around very long, so it still had those sterile white walls. Kristy, the store manager, decided to spruce it up with earthy orange, mocha, purple and aqua colors, and even one called “swanky grey”! The team has been kept busy rotating in small groups through weatherization projects at homes or staying at the offices to make storm windows and other odds and ends of projects. Usually the same group will see a weatherization project through on one home (2-3 days), getting to know the homeowner and keeping abreast of what needs to be done.

Last week, I was working at the home of an elderly (96!) woman who made a mean soup and homemade bread for lunch! Homemade French pea soup one day, homemade clam chowder the next…. Delicious! I worked there a third day (sadly, after lunch) with Ryan, our Habitat project coordinator, to finish putting a door over an entrance straight into the basement. I learned a lot that day, like how to drill screw holes in concrete and how easy it is to snap drill bits off on a screw head if you don’t make the holes well enough! Earlier that week, two other teammates had been working at this same house and we also learned how soggy the ground gets in Maine in the spring. As we were leaving, we tried to cut across a corner of the lawn instead of backing the 15-passenger van all the way back onto the road. Yeah, it was like sinking into butter! After 1/2 hour of trying to get the two left wheels unstuck (with 2 Minnesotans in the group, we figured we had a good shot) and only managing to sink another wheel, we bit the bullet and called our Team Leader, who had us call into the government assistance program that sent us to a local towing company who finally came to pull us out – after having to also call into the government program and answer 10 minutes of questions for them to fill out paperwork. Or something. Anyway, he had us out in a couple minutes, but had to pull us out sideways because of how we were sitting. Not difficult, because, like I said, the ground was mushy as a …soggy piece of bread. Or something. Lesson #2 learned: stay off the grass during spring in Maine.

 As I’ve mentioned before, each member of the team is also expected to complete 80 hours of Independent Service Projects (ISPs). Here, off campus, with a much smaller group, the team usually works together on projects. We’ve gotten involved with an awesome weekly ISP at the United Church of Christ here called the Neighborhood Café. Basically, we arrive, help serve for an hour or so (or do a bit of yard work if there’s enough volunteers), eat a great meal, then kick butt in the kitchen for clean-up. The great thing about this meal is that it isn’t just for people who NEED a meal; anyone in the community can – and do - come. There’s also usually music and karaoke going on, which makes clean-up all the more fun as well. The building also hosts a food bank and child-care center, which we haven’t really done anything with yet. Very community oriented. We’ve been able to come back other days and dig into the yard work (haha, punny!) and will be helping with a few maintenance projects.

Today, we headed out to Portland (at 6am!) to an organization called Preble Street soup kitchen to help with breakfast and lunch meals, and the next couple Fridays we’ll hopefully be lending a hand at a soup kitchen down the street for a couple hours. Fighting hunger, one meal at a time - in more ways than one.  Bragging a bit, but we’re the Raven team with the most ISP hours – which is an accomplishment as we only have 8 people currently on our team while everyone else has 11! 

 So what has the team been doing when not working with Habitat or on ISPs or cooking team dinners?  There is a library here that we can visit on Wednesdays when they’re open till 8pm instead of 5pm. They’ve allowed us to have temporary cards to check out movies and books until we leave April 19th. Weekends would also be a good time to visit, as they’re open a few hours, but we’re usually doing one thing or another on our time “off”. Last weekend, after attending an Energy Efficiency Workshop hosted by Habitat, we drove over to the neighboring town, Brunswick, for the evening and explored the shops. One of the girl’s on the team, Kelcy, is an absolute Hunger Games addict (for example, screaming “I VOLUNTEER! I VOLUNTEER AS TRIBUTE!!” the next time someone asked for a project volunteer! Goodness, that girl cracks me up…), so the entire team had a movie date the day it opened in theaters. Today, we also had an exploration afternoon of Portland following our ISP at the soup kitchen. It’s one of the bigger cities of Maine (ah, about 65,000 people… let me insert a story here about earlier this week when Ryan mentioned this great DQ that actually now had service INSIDE where you could sit and eat! Amazing!). Portland is right along the ocean coast while Bath has more of an inland coast.  Last Sunday, the team ventured over to Freeport, which is apparently the birthplace of L.L. Bean! In local lingo, it’s just called Beans, and many people have worked there at some point or another over the years. We visited the huge Beans store as well as a lot of other name brand outlets in the area. Managed to snag a $5.20 sweatshirt from Gap! It’s orange. Matches my backpack. And my folders. And my PPE bag. And my current hairband. Hmmm….

Speaking of Portland and Freeport… Another of our NCCC teams has just arrived in the area today! Buffalo 1 Team, which one of my roommates is on. They’ll be staying just outside Portland and commuting to work with a sponsor in Freeport.  The Team Leaders are planning a team date for next weekend sometime. Actually, we’ll be getting quite a few visitors from campus soon. Two staff members will be joining us for 5 days next week for some CAP events, one that Mike and I will be attending at a JobCorp farther north.  And our Raven Unit Leader, Mama Bird, Jen, will be visiting the site the last 3 days we’re in Maine, partly because another NCCC will be coming back to this area in one of the upcoming project Rounds.

Mike and I also had a chance to do some mini-CAPping with a group of high schoolers who came to Habitat this Friday. We got to work with them teaching how to assemble and stretch storm windows. Coincidentally, they were from the high school we’re hosting a CAP event this coming week, so it was nice to make that connection.

So, besides a wicked wiffle ball game in our driveway, that’s what’s been ahappening  here and thereabouts in Maine!
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