Habitat for Humanity’s Blitz Build will erect four homes in eight days
GYPSUM — They will build it because they come.
Almost seven dozen volunteers swarmed into the valley to build four homes in eight days.
It’s called a Habitat for Humanity Blitz Build, and it’s aptly named. Ambitious, to be sure, but nothing they haven’t done before.
“It’s fast, but I looked at the schedule this morning and we’re right on it,” said Bryan Brubaker with Beck Builds.
Beck has been working with the local Habitat affiliate for 20 years, providing a little gentle guidance and expertise for volunteer hammer swingers. They don’t need much, Brubaker said.
“There’s some good leadership among these volunteers,” Brubaker said.
This is the first Blitz Built for Vail Valley Habitat for Humanity, and they’re here in honor of the local affiliate’s 20th anniversary.
They will build it because they come
They come from all around the country: Arizona, Alabama, Iowa … everywhere. They’ve done Blitz Builds in places like Hawaii, Iowa, Kansas … again, everywhere.
They do all kinds of things for a living. Steve Komonce is a tech writer in the nuclear power industry.
Their labor of love emphasizes labor. Volunteers are on the site by 6:45 a.m.
“It looks a little like chaos, but out of it all comes well built homes that are constructed with love,” Komonce said.
Some are executives in finance — Thrivent Financial is one of the sponsors.
Laborers of love
It’s work, but it’s work you love, said Roy Zaborowski, chair of this Blitz Build group.
This particular group started together several years ago when most of them were working with Honeywell, the tech manufacturer. Eventually, Honeywell’s powers that be wanted to work with groups besides Habitat.
That’s great, but these folks had been working together for at least six years, and they like each other.
“It’s like a family reunion,” Zaborowski said.
Every year they select one Habitat affiliate for a Blitz Build. Zaborowski said the mission is four-fold:
First is to publicize the need for low-cost housing. “In areas like this, many people don’t realize the scope of service industry workers needed to look after all those high rollers,” he said.
Second is to help the local affiliate grow. “It helps the local affiliate grow its volunteer base. People try it once and say, ‘I can do that!’” Zaborowski said.
Third is to stimulate the local affiliate’s donor base. “It usually takes 13-15 weeks to finish what we’re going to do in eight days. Sponsors get a bigger bang for their bucks during a Blitz Build,” Zaborowski said.
Fourth is the best. “It’s fun.” Zaborowski said.
Home grown homes
Volunteers also come from the Vail Valley. On the day we were wandering around the site, big crews from the town of Vail and Vail Resorts were dancing the construction fandango.
“Home ownership is so important and Habitat for Humanity makes such a big difference for so many families and so many kids. Vail Resorts loves to support this program,” said Kristin Williams with Vail Resorts.
And there’s this.
“There is nothing like giving a girl a hammer,” she said.
Mostly, though, they’re just happy to be helping.
“We’re happy to be serving the community and helping people,” said Mark Novak with the town of Vail.
Dana Erickson is with Thrivent Financial, Habitat for Humanity International’s largest corporate sponsor. Their shirts read, “Live generously.”
“Thrivent has been part of Habitat building more than 500 homes in 75 countries,” Erickson said.
“These were a flat deck yesterday,” said Cal Wettstein, construction supervisor with the local Habitat affiliate, waving his arm at the homes quickly taking shape. “We’ll be flying trusses on Saturday (July25) .”
That’s tomorrow, Cal.
“Oh wow, really?! Well, we’ll still be flying trusses.”
Bob Baker has been with the local Habitat affiliate since it started in 1996. He has never been involved in a Blitz Build, and is thrilled with it. He’s not a bit apprehensive about the ambitious timetable.
“There are lots of skilled people. We’re going to get this done,” he said.