On the Hottest Thursday of the Year: HUD RPCVs Work on Habitat Housing
By Guest Contributor on Monday, July 25th, 2011
Told that a Peace Corps team and a Marine Corps team were on their way to Habitat for Humanity, a volunteer crew chief had no doubts about the toughness of Marines. But, he wondered, what about the Peace Corps civilians? That day, July 21st, might prove to be the hottest Thursday of the year.
Not to to worry. The RPCV team was comprised of many who had lived in hot climates doing physically demanding work during terms of two years or more. These RPCVs were especially eager for the chance to work outside in service to others in a project related to their desk work at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). The 10 RPCVs who dispelled the crew chief’s initial worry included Sarah Stewart (Guatemala, Honduras, 2004-7, Panama Response, 2009-10), Madlyn Wohlman-Rodriguez (Honduras, 1979-85), Salima Appiah-Kubi (Malawi, 2008-10), Erica Lipschultz (Mozambique, 2007-10), Deja Love (Swaziland, 2007-9), Lauren McNamara (Armenia, 2006-8), Laara Manler (Burkina Faso, 2001-2, Paraguay 2008-10), Christina Machion-Quilaqueo (Chile, 1996-8), Tad Wincek (Mauritania, 2009-10), and Tino Calabia (Peru, 1963-65). All were among more than three dozen RPCVs employed at HUD.
After a Habitat coordinator started their morning by explaining Habitat’s 30-unit goal in Washington’s Ivy City, the HUD team trooped off to a vacant building. Hour after hour, they wielded picks, sledgehammers, cement drills, circular saws and the like. They broke through the building’s old concrete base, drilled holes for rebar, and strengthened wood interior framing for a modern duplex with three bedrooms in each unit. Despite the triple-digit heat index, the rubble, and dust, the team completed their service day gratified to have helped two families planning to move into affordable housing.
The service project was the third event by HUD RPCVs honoring the 50th Anniversary of the Peace Corps. On March 1st, marking President Kennedy’s signing of the Executive Order establishing the Peace Corps, HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan launched the commemoration year with an address before more than 60 RPCVs from 7 different federal agencies, other visiting RPCVs and guests. On May 19th, also in HUD’s auditorium, author Stanley Meisler presented his new book on the Peace Corps’ first 50 years. At present, four HUD RPCVs – Deja, Laara, Sarah, and Tino — serve on committees preparing several September 25th events in Washington, marking the 1961 enactment of the Peace Corps law.
Thanks to Tino Calabia for this report!