Mike Cook finds late fall Habitat builds a bit odd. "The sun isn't even going to show itself until you're walking away from the sign-in station. The site is veiled in soft light," he says, waxing poetic. "There could be anything waiting for you when you finally reach the front porch of the home you are going to help create."
"Then the page turns, and the volume of work that needs to be done is there for us all to see," continues Cook, an Infor quality assurance analyst. "It seems like just moments go by before the sounds of saws and hammers ring out."
On a chilly, windy October day, 23 Infor employees volunteered in Joppa, Texas, where Habitat for Humanity is building an entire community with multiple homes just east of the city center.
Senior software engineer Prakash Ramamoorthy had waited three years for his chance to give back with Habitat and Infor. "I was well prepared for the sudden cold front that was predicted for the build day," he said.
Because of high winds, roofing was not permitted.
"Job one was the installation of hurricane braces and all the medium-density fiberboard (MDF) to help seal the house," Cook said.
Other team members worked on other tasks:
- Exterior walls and insulation
- Handicap provision in bathrooms
- Setup of heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) closet
"We worked like bees," Cook said. "The morning flew by."
"I did a lot of hammering-and some removal of nails, too," said sales account manager Suzanne Woodling. "We finished out the remaining framework of the house with the outside walls and weather proofing."
"I worked on the HVAC closet setup," Ramamoorthy said. "I worked the miter saw and circular saw, and quickly learned how to use them effectively.
"Later, I helped install plywood panels on exterior walls, and followed with insulation," he said. "Lots of people were involved in this job. It was total team work. We nailed hundreds of nails. Everyone worked hard and had lots of fun doing it."
"The hard work and laughter seemed to gel the relationships we already had with our coworkers," Cook added. "It's as if we were seeing the real person shine through all the veneer that an office environment calls for. It's crazy how fast trust is built between people when they are working together.
"After lunch, we returned to the house and saw one of the most epic moments ever: a reciprocating saw was chewing through the side of the house. It went up and across and down. Boom! The first window hole was cut out and, lo and behold, inside we saw a tiny woman holding this monster of a saw. The look of accomplishment beamed from her face like the sun. That inspiration carried us through the rest of the day.
"Sadly, we had to cut the day short due to a coming storm. So, we packed up the site, and said goodbye to the home and those who helped guide our work," Cook said. "You empty your heart and soul, and you walk away tired but filled with a sense of accomplishment and hope for the community."
Just as the team drove away from the site, sleet began to fall-a bit of icing to cap a soul-refreshing day.