“When are we going to do something new? Tired of digging!”
At first I was irked when I read what one of my students wrote in his evaluation, especially because I often stress to my crew members that they aren’t going to enjoy every task they are assigned … in any job. On the other hand, I couldn’t blame the young man for formulating his frustration. Ten straight workdays of turning up terrain will test most people.
The digging would soon pay off though. That clayey, root-riddled backyard in North Minneapolis was graded to perfection by the following afternoon and, rather than dirt, the party of five (ages ranging from eighteen to twenty) shoveled wet concrete from a cement truck the subsequent day. After the garage slab was poured on July 10, the ambitious lineup proceeded to show exactly why they were selected for the 2013 YouthBuild Advanced Summer Crew.
The quintet moved swiftly over the next few weeks, dead set on leaving the car stall prepped for siding and shingles by the August 2nd deadline set by Tree Trust’s housing partner, Urban Homeworks. The spark plugs needed a mere three days to build all of the wall panels, only two days to lay the concrete block upon the edges of the slab, and just two more to stand, brace, and completely sheath the walls. They also raised and installed the garage door header, which was more than sixteen feet long and took the entire group to lift, on the first try.
Despite these impressive feats, however, I have to say that the dynamos’ greatest accomplishments occurred during their final week together. On Monday, July 29, the team set and braced ALL of the roof trusses. They spent Tuesday and Wednesday not only framing the overhangs, but began covering the roof to boot. The YouthBuilders carried their torrid pace into August, finishing the overhead sheathing by the time they clocked out on Thursday. On Friday they had the whole garage wrapped with Tyvek by lunch time—it was ready for siding. They then prepared the garage for shingles, stapling the last stretch of tar paper atop the roof at approximately 3:30pm on August 2.
Some weeks have passed since I shook their hands on that sunny afternoon, yet I still beam with pride while recalling the Advanced Summer Crew’s achievements. But I don’t just picture that high-quality structure they left for passersby to see on the Northside. Instead, I probably think more about the qualities I saw in these young men. They were focused. I vividly remember how they steadfastly pushed through the hellacious heat and humidity of mid-July. They were tough. I recollect how sore and tired I was on occasion and how my squad must have been too. And they worked together. I believe the biggest reason the YouthBuilders constructed the garage in such a short amount of time is that they were team players; I constantly noticed them looking to help each other out. To me, that’s what being on this crew is about.
—Tyrel Nelson, YouthBuild Lead Construction Trainer