I often associate my love of genealogy with my father. He was a computer guy, and bought me my first Family Tree Maker program. He took my siblings and me to see his hometown in the Central Valley, where we saw places where our relatives used to live and work, collected vital records downtown, and took pictures of family headstones in the cemetery. When I was a high school student he drove me up to the National Archives branch and patiently looked through rolls of census and index microfilm with me, following the plans that I typed up. He was always interested to hear about the latest discoveries I had made about different branches of the family.
My father passed away two years ago at the VA hospital at the age of 65, finally succumbing to the disability he had begun to suffer from when he was in the service before I was born. This weekend I had the chance to volunteer at Habitat for Humanity project in San Jose. It was different from their usual projects; this one is helping to build a transitional home for homeless disabled veterans. I was interested in it when I first heard about it, though unsure since I’m not particularly strong or handy. When I found out it was going to be on the two year anniversary of my father’s passing, I knew I should sign up.
This project is different from the usual Habitat projects. One of the project organizers told me this was the first time they had done a project like this, a transitional home versus a home for a family. I think this is a great project, one that other Habitat for Humanity regions should consider as well.
On the actual day of, I came in work clothes expecting to paint or something like that, but this home is in an earlier stages of construction. Most of the day I did basic tasks like raking, picking up scrap wood, moving a pile of wood to a different pile of wood. But at the end the project manager showed me how to use the chop saw. It was fun! We had some issues with wood rot, funky nails in the wood, measurement errors, but overall it was a good time.
It was a good way to remember my dad, and I am looking forward to helping out again.