Monday, January 21, 2008

Homeward Bound and Congrats

JoAnn reports: I was one of the unlucky people who had their Saturday flight through Atlanta canceled, so stuck in Mobile until Sunday at 6:45AM. Carol and Paul rescheduled to 10AM Sunday so we had a rainy day in Mobile with no car. Took a cab to see a movie and walked a half mile for dinner at Panera Bread.

At the airport I bought a Mobile Sunday Press-Register newspaper because front page of the Real Estate section had an article on our Build. Found other interesting articles - one on a Habitat house being built for a Headstart preschool teacher by high school students. Several articles about Mardi Gras - one gave information about the expense these mystic societies incur putting on parades, mostly for "throws" which are beads, stuffed animals, moon pies, or commemorative coins. Oh yes, and the ball that Deb got smacked with. Apparently the paper has an ongoing feature called "Eyesores of the Week" showing pictures of properties with excessive trash/junk AND naming the property owners!

Atlanta still had snow on the ground but planes flying with no weather issues. About 25 minutes to flight time, I realized at wrong gate - made a mad dash and made it. Arrived in Bangor and learned a troop plane there - so looked for my friend Kay Lebowitz, who's a troop greeter. Kay is there day or night when a plane comes in and she is 91! I stood with her as we applauded troops back to their plane going to Texas and home!

I've been hearing from many people who have followed our adventure through the blog. And what an adventure it was. I met a lot of great people from a lot of different places: fellow Mainers, Kevin from Australia, the Habitat crew from Mobile, the Americorp kids from many places, members of the Alabama and Mobile Associations of REALTORS who wined and dined us royally, and Habitat families who will live in the houses including our Habitat mom, Natasha.

It was hard work but it was fun work. And very meaningful work. It's one thing to send money to help, which is important, but to be able to do something to help hands on is great! We got thank yous from so many people not involved with the build. My cab driver yesterday morning said it was a blessing that we came down to build a house for Natasha and her baby.

Thank you so much to everyone who made if possible for us to do this and for me to be a part of it! My mother has watched me do projects and keeps telling me I could probably build a house. Now I know I could, with a lot of help from friends. Beware if Mary invites the Habitat team to come visit her property in Lubec and suggests we bring hammers!

From Ken DelVecchio, President of the Connecticut Association of REALTORS: Would you please pass along this CONGRATULATIONS to the entire Maine Habitat Team for the job they just accomplished in Mobile. I have enjoyed reading all their comments and seeing the pictures of the work at “their home” in Alabama. It brought back so many wonderful memories of a year ago. They have just accomplished something that so few actually ever get to do, help someone else in need. I am sure their memories and the new friendships they have made will last with them forever. For many this will be a “life changing “experience. My best regards to all.

Note: MAR thanks Ken too for sharing his advice and experiences with our team before the trip.

Bart reports: I'd like to reiterate Mary's thoughts - this was an absolutely AWESOME journey the 19 of us shared. Having had the opportunity to travel extensively in my life, this particular trip will rate very high on the remembrance scale! I too would like to heartfully thank my family and sponsors for allowing me this opportunty. Without their patience and support this would have been much more difficult.

I awoke Friday to undertake my side trip to sunny Florida only to be greeted by torrential rains and wind. Eventually I staggered downstairs with the luggage and out into the rain. I stopped briefly to chat with Patti and Deb. Deb had driven from Maine and was procrastinating a bit about the morning drive in such terrible weather. I underestimated how far it is from Mobile to Tampa and quite dismayed to learn it's 500 miles - so much for advance planning! Arrived in time for a tornado watch. Seems like many of us will remember this experience for some time to come -and that includes the travel woes.

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