Everything seems to be falling into place. Maybe not in the order I want it to, but aligning nonetheless. I volunteered to be one of the two in-house facilitators of the AA meeting, in addition to the NA meeting. It’s been a while since I lead a meeting but it is something I enjoy and have a lot of experience doing. It’s all about service work. Starting it here will not only make me look good with my case worker but makes me feel good inside.
I’m sitting in study hall, nice and quiet, when a man starts banging loudly on a table, starts crying, and leaves the room. I finally saw somebody snap. That’s the only explanation. He’s been here as long as I have, I hope they don’t kick him out. He’s a good guy, but this place can make you revisit some pretty bad places in your head.
What a day. Restorative Justice has a way of making me feel good, even with seven oozing blisters on my hands from shoveling tons of wet sand.
After breakfast (which is after aerobics), nine of us donned our reflective vests and hopped in the van, trailer in tow, and headed for Hinkley. We love riding in the van. And we were treated to a 40-minute trip. We were told we would be working hard, and that we were going to work on a house for Habitat for Humanity. Both statements were true.
Essentially we dug a four foot moat around the 30’ x 60’ house, two feet deep, four feet wide. Then we put blue Styrofoam insulation down to guard against frost. Then, after three hours of shoveling the sand out, we shoveled it back in. Ugh.
In the middle of the operation, I did get a side job of varnishing six wooden doors. That’s something I have some experience with and enjoy and, well, it’s way easier. But I still ended my day with load after load on the scoop shovel. Each scoop no less than 50 pounds. Our uniforms were destroyed. We were bleeding. We were hungry and tired.
And after all of that, the man in charge gave us a tour of the house and said it was being built for a single mother of three who had been working for five years taking care of mentally and physically disabled adults, but couldn’t make ends meet and was now homeless. A tear came to his eye when he thanked us for our work. There may have been some tears in our eyes too, or maybe I just had some sand in my eyes.
He told us how generous Wells Fargo was to donate the property. 3M paid HFH for the opportunity to have volunteers come and insulate the entire house. Whirlpool donates appliances to every—every HFH house. And an un-named source donates the highest quality and efficient furnaces, water heaters, and air conditioners. And countless people donate their time in any way they can.
For their house, the soon-to-be-owner must put in 260 hours of her own time on the house, put $100 down, and pay a mortgage of $300 a month, interest free.
Yeah, I feel good because I worked hard for somebody who is in need. I’d like to do more things like that when I get out.
[ANNE: This will be Vince’s last post from inside prison because … he is being released today! As you read this, I will be in Willow River watching his graduation ceremony. Then he will walk out the door, with the clothes on his back and about $300. I will have an avocado in the car for him. We’ll drive straight to a 1:30 pm appointment in St. Paul with his ISR agent. Then I will bring him home. I got the landline phone, as required. Thanks to friends pitching in, I’ve got a bed for him and toiletries and some books and a few clothes that won’t make him stand out as an ex con. I am so excited. So happy. We’ll post a report on how it went, with photos, next time.]