If the walls could speak, they would say that I was at the Homecoming Build when they were raised, and I helped, as clueless as I was. You see, I’ve only ever built things that come with directions in a box from stores like Target or IKEA. You know the type of furniture I am talking about, the bookshelves or the TV stands that come with pictogram directions and can be built in 25 steps or less.
So for me, a house was a completely new ball game, and I knew that I would be way out of my league in terms of how underprepared I was as I signed up to help build the Homecoming House I had seen on Bowman Field every year since I was a little girl.
If I am being honest, I had never thought about volunteering for the Homecoming Build because I just didn’t feel like it was an option available to me. And, I didn’t think my minuscule amount of handywoman knowledge would be helpful. But this year, that all changed.
On September 27th, 2021, I woke up to my alarm, threw on some clothes, and headed to the Homecoming Build. It was fairly cold outside as fall was setting in, and the aura surrounding Bowman Field bounced between anxiety and excitement as I walked onto the field and looked at the house, only a floor at this point, surrounded by floats being built by different sororities and fraternities. Looking at everything, I wondered to myself, “How does this all get done every year?” But yet, every year, it does.
And this year, I was a part of it. If I were to reflect on my experience, the biggest thing I learned was how specific you have to be to build a house. Everything was measured, moved, and moderated by the men and women who actually knew what they were doing to ensure that volunteers like me knew what we needed to do. And amongst the specificity, I also found a village full of skilled regulars, like the Tuesday/Thursday crew I had interviewed for a year about various Habitat projects, and volunteers like me, all working together to make it happen.
If the walls could speak, they would tell you how I nervously climbed the ladder to get on top of the flooring, propped up by cinder blocks, and raised the sidewall of a house with a crew who accepted I knew nothing — but was willing to teach me what to do. I saw the work, the sweat, and the dedication it took to do something seemingly so simple, yet so specific. I understood the community that surrounded the Homingcoming Build and the acceptance of every volunteer, regardless of experience. And lastly, I learned that I wished I had started volunteering at the Homecoming Build long before my last semester at Clemson because I was so intrigued by what I learned, even something as simple as raising walls.
If the walls could speak, they could tell you all of this. They could share everything with you about the volunteers who were there. The problems, solutions, laughs, and maybe a few minor injuries that occurred. But you’ll have to hear it from them, not from me, so when you get a chance, I highly recommend you head to Bowman Field and check out the Homecoming House. And maybe you’ll feel the magic that surrounds the Build as you help with the siding, or the roof, as you add to the stories the walls can share.