Goodbye, Hello and Wow It's Hard Work!
I’m a little behind on my blogging, so bear with me as I get you all caught up. We’re always about a week or so delayed on getting these posted so if you’re following us on Facebook, Instagram or YouTube you may be wondering why we're back in Florida or Texas, which of course, we aren’t!
At the Florida Caverns, we wrapped up our project at this amazing place. Our time there ended with over 1600 hours of volunteer time completed, 39 people came to help, and more than 16 projects were finished. These volunteers, this community, and this park were so much better than we could have asked for.
The time came for us to depart but a couple families were staying behind to finish some projects. This was truly an amazing experience. Every part of this project was incredible. Saying goodbye was beyond difficult. We had spent several weeks with these folks and felt like we were saying goodbye to family. We enjoyed many meals together, worked side by side, and shared stories. Saying goodbye was not easy. After many hugs and lots of tears (mostly mine!) we hopped in our coach and headed west.
It was Thursday Feb 27 when we left the Florida Caverns to head to our next project, Rockport TX. Hurricane Harvey hit that area pretty hard in August 2017. The city took a hard hit and Phil recalls seeing the storm hit live on webcam until the camera failed. They still have a lot of work to do to fully recover.
One of our volunteer pals, Jackie (in her motorhome Half Pint - named because it's super cute and only about 25ft) went with us. We caravan'd together which made the journey a little nicer and more fun for everyone. We stayed at a couple of Harvest Hosts along the way and had our first experience where someone recognized Y2V. We had parked at the Crying Eagle Brewery in Lake Charles, LA and were just getting settled when we met another RV’er in the parking lot. We were introducing ourselves to each other and when Phil said that he and I had created a group called A Year to Volunteer. The gentlemen said, “I’ve heard of A Year To Volunteer!” We figured out that it was because our dear friends Phil and Stacy of You, Me and the RV had talked about it in their blog and video posts. We felt almost famous haha. A big thank you to Phil and Stacy for all they have done to publicize our project!
Over several days, we worked our way down to Rockport and pulled in to Bay View RV Resort. Bay View is one of the older, more established campgrounds in the area and where we called home for the next two weeks. One of the campground's representatives RJ arranged a low cost option for us to stay there while we worked in the community. He connected us with Cyndi at Rockport Hands of Hope (RHOH), a local charitable organization coordinating post-Harvey projects in town. She lined up several project options for us to work on starting with the demolition of a gymnasium/outbuilding at Coastal Oaks Church. We parked with Jackie and met Dave (@saltandpeppervan), out newest volunteeer, grabbed some dinner at the local Boiling Pot seafood eatery and got ready to go to work bright and early on the following Monday.
The next day, after signing on a RHOH volunteers, we headed off to the church with our tiny but mighty team of volunteers, all four of us! When we got to the church there were about 40 kids already working on tearing the two and a half story building down. Turns out, a school near Dallas was on Spring Break and a bunch of the kids and some chaperones came down to help for a few days. We grabbed our goggles, face masks, gloves and tools and got to work on the one room that had not been touched.
Wow was that hard work! After two hours we were tired, hungry and dirty. We tore down all the drywall and insulation, several non load-bearing walls and the ceiling. We needed a break! We headed back to our coaches, grabbed some food, cleaned up a little and rested, and after an hour, we headed back to the church to finish up our room destruction.
It struck me quickly just how tiring it was to tear stuff down. Fun, but tiring. It was a hot and humid day in Rockport and none of us were used to either. After about two more hours, we were exhausted. We had ripped up all the carpet, all the walls were gone, a closet was completely torn down and the only thing left was the framing.
After a few days, the students left, and were replaced by a few more Y2V volunteers. Phil and Stacy of You, Me and the RV (todayissomeday.net) showed up again to help us on this second project. Tim, joined in having found us through Phil & Stacy ,and shortly thereafter Gary from our Florida Caverns project joined us as well. Our A Year To Volunteer group had doubled and doing more and more work every day.
Each day we saw more and more progress. One wall after another came down. The second and third floors were finally gone. This was hard, heavy-lifting and back-breaking work. Fun and very satisfying, but hard. We were using sledgehammers, sawzalls, pry bars, a scissor lift, and our bare hands to get this building down. We put in at least 5 hours every day and we had the dirt, blisters, bumps and bruises to show for it! This was really a fun project. Steadily, over our time there, we saw more and more fruit from our labor. In two week, just about the only thing standing was the metal frame and foundation. We did it!
It’s amazing how fast two weeks goes by when you are with friends and knocking down a building. When we went to Rockport, we thought we were going to be working on a few different projects for the city, but it turned out the church needed a lot of help and we wanted to do as much as we could for them. By focusing on this one project, we helped the church save nearly $80,000.00 in demolition costs, money better spent on rebuilding their outbuilding into something modern and functional. Our experience in south Texas was tremendously rewarding!
Our time in Rockport came to an end and it was time for us to head to our next project, Joe Wheeler State Park in Rogersville, Alabama. On Monday March 23, we headed out. Check in again next week for our journey to Alabama and the start of Project 3.