Posted by: jlogue | June 15, 2007

From she who says little…

Throughout the week, I have said little but I have kept my eyes and ears open at all times.  The things I have seen, heard, felt, wondered, and learned are still spinning–waiting to be fully digested.  As such, my post will remain superficial yet hopefully informative. 

The second day of work, I spent a lot of time talking to a woman (Carolyn) who will be living in a Habitat House.  In order to live in the houses, people complete a significant application process and in addition to the financial considerations, they must complete 350 hours of what Habitat calls “sweat equity.”  Of these hours, 250 are on any project and 100 hours are on their own house. 

Carolyn and her husband were working on site for their first day of “sweat equity” and they did not yet know which neighborhood they would call home.  Carolyn told me her story in bits and pieces throughout the day and for you, I will summarize what she told me.  The pieces might not fit together because I am unclear on all of the details and specifics but, at best, you will get a smally glimpse into her life.

Carolyn, her daughter, and her granddaughter first went to a hotel when the storm was coming. She was not even aware a storm was coming b/c the pastor at her church had recently died so she had been involved in the celebrations of his life/burial/etc. so apparently, that had taken up all of her time for days.  Carolyn’s husband (Woodie) spent the beginning of the hurricane at work (I think).  Eventually, Carolyn, her daughter, and granddaughter ended up in Texas as the stadium there. Woodie ended up in Boston. 

The details of this are foggy but some things that highlight her experience include–being fed well at the Superdome (what’s that place called in TX?) and having “an entire Wal-Mart” opened up for them at all times so they could just go get whatever they needed or wanted…not getting to talk to her husband for a few weeks…the children were well taken care of and got to play together in TX…all of Carolyn’s family stayed out of NOLA after Katrina.  Carolyn’s mother and daughter returned. Her other children stayed away (except the one who lives in MN) as did her sisters.

The thing Carolyn misses the most is her pictures and her children’s trophies. She was very sad about that.  She repeated it several times, actually.  Carolyn also repeated how “blessed” she was to have the Habitat house.  Her daughter, who will not live in the house with her, filled out all the paperwork, etc. for her.  Carolyn, her husband, and their 6-year-old granddaughter will reside in the house. Right now, she is living w/ her daughter and says it is hard because she is used to having her own space.

They are excited about the work and was glad to walk through to see the houses, as hers will look similar. Something else that she told me that I find interesting– the children have a “school” that they go to through Habitat (I’m thinking like a summer camp type thing) and the time spent counts for 25 of the family hours of “sweat equity.”  I’d like to know more about that program.

Those are the details as I remember them.  While I realize I will never see her again, I think this little bit of her life touched me somehow.  Rob got part of their story on tape but Carolyn and I talked a lot more after the recorder was off. The picture of me with them will not be public but I hope to have it so I can look back and revisit Carolyn’s story.

 I will post again–maybe even using spell check; forgive any errors/typos you see.


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