Take Me Home, Country Roads

NW ASB wasn’t alone in Wilmington. A second group from California was also staying with us, and they were a hoot and a half (dare I say they were two hoots). They worked on a different project site than us, however every night when they got back, we loved to visit with them, especially after a long day of work.

At the house, once my group had finished the ceiling, we started on the wall, which was 10 times easier since we didn’t have to hold the boards over our heads. By the end of the week, we had completed almost all the walls of the house. It was quite frustrating, but we all pushed through with positive attitudes and a lot of patience. In comparison to last year when we had a different project every day, but it was rather nice to have just one project to work on every day because we got to see just how much progress we had made by the end of the week. We made huge strides in the repair of this house, and I am proud to say that we were able to contribute to the rebuild of this woman’s house. Even after all the work, it was nice to have one day off.

Spending Friday at the beach was about as amazing as it sounds. The weather was above 70 degrees and the Carolina Beach Boardwalk was a beautiful space. Lunch at SeaWitch cafe was delicious and we spent several hours playing in the ocean, drawing in the sand, and burying Alex. Despite how relaxing the whole day was, in the end I was glad to be back home in my own bed.

ASB has been an amazing experience to me. I am so blessed to serve as president of this organization and I hope that I will get to have this opportunity again in the future. Originally I wasn’t sure if my senior year would have enough time in it to do ASB again, but honestly I don’t think I can leave. ASB has become my third family (after marching band) and it’s not something I’m ready to lose.

Get ready for Round 3 of me ASB, because I’m not going anywhere.

ASB Round 2

 

Wilmington, NC – to say you are wonderful is an understatement.

This is my second year participating in Alternative Spring Break, and honestly, these first few days could not have gone any better. We departed from Maryville bright and early at 4am, and our flight left around 7:30am. Sleeping on the flight wasn’t really an option for me as excitement for what was to come was a bit overwhelming. Upon arrival in Wilmington, we picked up our vans and headed out to Walmart and then our volunteer facility.

Kure Beach, NC was where our volunteer facility was located. We stayed in dorms at a baptist church. We were also just a 5 minute walk from a beautiful beach, many food places and souvenir shops, and a gorgeous pier. I know that we aren’t in North Carolina to be tourists, but I had to admit that all of this just happened to be a nice bonus.

Our first day we arrive at SeaGate baptist church for a delicious breakfast and there we were assigned our project sites. Our group went with Dave to help rebuild a woman’s house that had suffered major damage from the hurricane. The sheet rock from the ceiling had collapsed and the floor was damaged from flooding. Volunteer groups prior to us had stripped the house of everything aside from a few chairs and appliances that had survived through it all. Our job for the week was going to be putting up sheet rock all throughout the house.

Let me tell you, putting up sheet rock is no easy task. Not only was this house not built to code, but since it had settled so much over the years, there was not a single straight edge in that house, and every single piece of sheet rock had to be trimmed. The first two days, I helped put sheet rock on the ceiling and stuff it with insulation. I quickly found out just how out of shape I was when I had to hold up the boards on the ceiling. However, I will say that I got some nice practice with a power drill while doing this job.

It was rather nice though to finish off each evening at the beach, regardless of the fact that the water was freezing. It was nice to wash away the dust from the day in the ocean. Unwinding from a hard day’s work is important, especially when you have to get up early and do it again the next day. And that’s exactly what we did.

This is just a big ol’ summary…

TUESDAY – 3/20

Out of all the days on this trip, this one was simultaneously the worst and the best of them all. We split up into two different groups this time so we could cover more projects in the morning. One group went to go help residents move back into their apartment after they had been evacuated for a fire that occurred in December. My group left to work in the Clara White Mission building, a non-profit organization that assists those in need. We arrived at 8:00am and began putting on our hair nets and plastic gloves and aprons. I got put on grits and the others were assigned scrambled eggs, pastries, biscuits, and gravy. A few others were assigned to carry the trays out to the people receiving the meal. I had never worked in a kitchen like this before, and I never realized just how quick and precise you have to be! Much to my dismay, I was not very good at keeping the same proportion when scooping. We were able to feed approximately 200 people in just 2 hours.

Our next mission was to head back to the church and help to sort the donated clothes. Unfortunately, some had to be thrown into the re-purpose bin because they had gotten wet from the night before, but overall there were TONS of donated clothes. Dave, a director of social ministries at the church, told us they had received 10 full boxes of clothes to be sorted, and it took us and hour and half to do just one! There were some interesting finds in there, including about 5 bridesmaids dresses…those were something.

In the afternoon our two groups were supposed to meet back up and go to work at a food bank for the remainder of the day, however, the residents at the apartments needed more help than what was originally expected, so our group headed over there to do some work. Two to three people were sent to different apartments to continue helping the residents while the other half of our group that had been there all morning, got to go enjoy their lunch. All of us just helped the residents get their things set back up in their apartments and get things taken down to the dumpster that wasn’t needed anymore. We did a lot of good work that day and were able to help a lot of people, however, without going into detail, we had an unfortunate encounter with bed bugs. This led to a series of events that we can all look back on and laugh about now, but it was truly a bonding experience that I’ll never forget. Thanks to our fearless leaders and quick thinking, we were able to get the situation under control, even though it kind of ate up the rest of our afternoon. Sometimes things don’t always go as planned, but as long as you stay patient and stay positive, it’ll always work out in the end.

 

WEDNESDAY – 3/21

On this day we traveled back out to Little Talbot Island. Once again our group split into two, one half went to do trail cleanup, and the other half helped to destroy a boardwalk because it led to a dangerous part of the beach and the park rangers didn’t want to allow people to easily access it anymore. I don’t know what it was about it, but prying apart boards felt very empowering and helped us unwind a bit. However, the wind was pretty violent this day and the sand blowing in our face wasn’t exactly the most pleasant conditions, but we all still had a great time. Once both groups were done, we all met back up and Park Ranger Kirby talked to us about the sea turtles that nest on the beaches where we were and south of us, which was really interesting!

A shell and a skull of a loggerhead sea turtle

That was all we did for that day, so we got some time to relax in the dorms afterward, which was much needed as most of us were really beginning to feel exhausted. Since we got done early, we had some free time, so we decided to go to the Southbank Riverwalk as a fun activity. There was a long search for parking followed by a search for a place to eat, but we all had a good night of just getting to explore Jacksonville a bit.

 

THURSDAY – 3/22

Since today was beach day, our morning project was pretty small. We worked with some park rangers to repair a jetty that, over time, had become a little rough. Once we were done we got to go on a short marshland tour, then ate lunch, then headed out to go to the beach. Despite the water being FREEZING, some of us (including me) still got in the water, especially because I couldn’t miss this opportunity since it was my first time at the beach. After sunbathing, shell searching, and souvenir shopping, we headed back to the church to start gathering our things to head home.

 

FRIDAY – 3/23

Today was a long day. My small group got up at 5:45am to do breakfast prep. Then we headed over to the Boys and Girls Club to help build a playground. We had to leave there early to get back and finish packing and cleaning. Then we headed to lunch, then to the airport. It was a long night of travel, but we made it home safely around 1:30 Saturday morning. We were all exhausted and it didn’t take long for everyone to climb into bed and get some sleep.

As I sit here typing all of this up, I realize just how much I’m going to miss this trip and all the wonderful people I grew close to, which just makes me even more excited for next year.

 

Day One. Check.

MONDAY – 3/19

We’re finally here after such a long wait. We’ve already finished our first day of work and we’re getting ready for the rest of the week.

Since it was pouring buckets this morning, our beach cleanup was postponed until later. So we began our day at the Ripault Club house on Fort George Island. We did a lot of detail cleaning like cleaning windows, cleaning baseboards and cleaning the wall sconces. Once we finished that, we headed over to Kinglsey plantation to take a short tour. Although it’s more of a serious topic, it was really interesting to see how small the houses were that the slaves lived in and learn more about their lives on a plantation.

After that, we headed over to Little Talbot Island and had lunch. The eager of us scarfed down our sandwiches quickly so we could go see the ocean. I finally got to see the ocean for the first time, and it just made me even more excited for Thursday when we actually get to be in the water and hang out at the beach. But, the moment was short lived because once we were done eating, we got to head out to clean up the hurricane debris in the dunes by the beach. Believe me, I’m all for picking up trash and cleaning up the environment, but the sand spurs and jumping cacti really tested my patience and will power today. Each step had to be carefully calculated so as to not step on the cacti, which were everywhere. But, we all made it out alive with just a few nicks and scrapes, and with bags full of trash. It was tedious work, but overall rewarding to know that our first day has already made a difference.

We’re all exhausted and, I don’t know about everyone else, but I’m excited to see what the rest of the week holds.