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Blitz Build, 2023

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The National Service Blitz is an annual event that brings together Habitat for Humanity AmeriCorps members and alumni in a week-long Build-a-Thon. The event is held in a different U.S. city each year, benefiting a different Habitat for Humanity affiliate. 

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2023 National Service Blitz was the first since 2019 and was hosted by Fort Hood Area Habitat for Humanity, in Killeen, TX.  To honor national and military service, the event was held during the week leading up to National Armed Forces Day. There were more than 250 volunteers involved in the build, representing Habitat for Humanity AmeriCorps from all 50 states, Veterans Build, RepairCorps, Catholic Charities, YMCA, future homeowners, and active U.S. military service members. The volunteers worked on a variety of projects in the region and celebrated the dedication of two Habitat for Humanity homes.

Tacoma Habitat was represented at the blitz by our AmeriCorps members: Lesly, Construction Crew Leader and Sarah Joan, Volunteer Services Coordinator. Upon arrival in Texas, volunteers were divided into teams and worked on various sites throughout the week. Lesly worked on new construction with Team Bravo, while Sarah Joan was on Team Delta doing demolition. By the end of the blitz, the exterior walls of five houses were built; one house had interior and exterior paint and flooring started; another house and garage were gutted and mucked (demoed); plenty of wheelchair ramps were built; and one porch demo and rebuild were complete. The two homes that were dedicated at the end of the blitz, also were trimmed out with flooring, paint, doors, and trim, and had been landscaped throughout the week.

The following is a more in-depth look at each volunteer team’s experience, as shared by Lesly and Sarah Joan. 

Team Bravo Recap (Lesly):

On the first day, Team Bravo joined a few other teams in a warehouse, where they built the exterior walls of five of the houses. Some of these houses were not supposed to get built until 2024, but thanks to the AmeriCorps member’s hard work, those houses were able to get started. For the rest of the week, Team Bravo went over to Harker Heights, a new construction location, and did interior work on two houses. There, they installed vinyl flooring, kitchen cabinets, interior doors, as well as trim and painting. The Boys and Girls Club also came out and helped the team with painting baseboards and landscaping.  At the end of Build-a-Thon week, there were two home dedication ceremonies, which were the houses that Teams Alpha and Bravo worked on. It was a week where AmeriCorps members both learned from each other and helped one another out, accomplishing the goals at hand and building friendships along the way.

Blitz Build, 2023 2Team Delta Recap (Sarah Joan): 

Team Delta’s project for the week was cleaning out an old house and garage that had been boarded up for years, with many belongings from the previous owner still inside. Team Delta was made up of about 30 AmeriCorps member. The crew inside the house cleared out belongings, including worn out furniture, clothing, and appliances. They also dismantled the wooden slats on interior walls, drywall, wallpaper, rugs and carpeting until the only remaining structure was the kitchen and cabinets, original flooring, interior framing, exterior walls, and siding. We sorted what could go to the ReStore versus what had to be thrown away. From the garage in particular, a few things were donated to the ReStore, but most of it had to get tossed or disposed of separately due to age, mold, animal droppings, and/or potential toxicity. In the garage, we found an unpredictable mix of contents including plenty of old handwritten letters– some never opened– and children’s belongings, like blankets and clothes, along with photo albums, holiday decorations, stacks of firearm magazines, shell casings, potential chemicals, and gunpowder, amongst other questionable substances.

By the end of the final day, the entire garage was gone; as a team, we pulled down the original framing with ropes, disassembled and disposed of the pieces, leaving only the concrete foundation. The house —which was next to but detached from the garage— was taken down to the interior studs, exterior walls and flooring. Our final work on the site involved a small group braving the attic, while the rest of us repainted the siding. This house is set to be rebuilt/ rehabilitated into a livable home in the future.

The week concluded with the Harker Heights dedications for two Veterans, and a block party in celebration of the homes and community built throughout the week. This was an incredibly special and meaningful experience, filled with really good people working together for a common cause– and a lot of fun!


Habitat's National Service Blitz Build

© Habitat for Humanity International/Raymond McCrea Jones

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