Monday, June 2, 2014

Day 1 –The Appliance Guy

Today was the first real day of my sabbatical I decided that I’ll treat the weekends mostly like weekends since I have no shortage of ranch chores to do and I’ll try to stick to sabbatical growth and work during the week.

I started today at the Habitat for Humanity ReStore. I had signed up to volunteer a half day a few weeks ago and today was the day. Up at 7, showering, getting ready and on the road at 8 to be sure I was there on time. The store is a bit of a distance for me, 50mi by the Google Maps app, so I wanted to be sure I was there on time.

The ReStores are places where people can donate old furniture, tools, appliances, building supplies, etc. and they are then re-sold to the public. The profits from the sales go to funding the Habitat organization. I don’t know about the other areas, but the presentation I got from Habitat for Humanity Denver said that the three stores in our metro area pay for all the operational costs of the affiliate. This means that in Denver, 100% of any donations, mortgage repayments, etc. goes back to building more houses.

I arrived at the store a few minutes early, and walked up to find someone else waiting that was a first time volunteer as well. We chatted for a minute before the store opened. Once inside, we signed in, had a brief orientation video (repeated a lot of what I’d gotten at the Denver HQ) and then got our aprons and gloves. After a tour of the store, we were split up to different departments. I ended up in appliances, which meant working with refrigerators, ovens, washers, dryers, dishwashers and microwaves.

My basic job today was the test new arrivals, of which there were a lot from the weekend. I worked a 9-2 shift, and after 45 minutes getting started, I spent the day moving large appliances around, to and from the back and around the area. We’d plug in 2-3 fridges and leave a cup of water in the freezer to see if they worked. We’d attach plugs to other appliances, most of which didn’t have them, and then see if ovens turned on, if washers’ motors worked, and in general, just give them a basic electrical test. If they worked, we’d mark them, and set them up for sale. If not, we’d take them in the back where salvagers would pick them up once a week.

It’s simple work, fairly basic, and not too strenuous. I helped a few people load appliances, and otherwise did basic menial work, including sweeping and mopping when we made a mess, and simple electrical connections. All in all a calm, quiet day.

With the Denver area building 30-40 homes a year, housing people that are without housing or in poor situations, it felt good to be contributing to the cause. I’m scheduled to go back out there next week and I’ll try to get in a different department.

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