‘ELE’ELE — Music emanated from behind the dust screen, and people wondered what was going on.
The rat-a-tat of hammers punctuated the symphony of radio music and the drone of a Bobcat battling stumps of guinea grass, as about two dozen volunteers erected walls for two more homes at Habitat for Humanity’s ‘Ele’ele I Luna housing project.
Catherine Shiningstar of Habitat for Humanity said they had members of a supervisory crew ready to work with the volunteers who, on Saturday, came from the Kaua’i Island Utility Cooperative and the Koloa Missionary Church.
Crew members made short work of raising the walls for two more homes in the first phase of the 125-home project.
The wall-raising brings the total of homes now standing to four, a far cry from the 18-home first-phase total and the overall 125 planned homes.
Shiningstar, who along with Habitat for Humanity’s Executive Director, Annette Creamer, was keeping an eye on the lunch for the volunteers, said more volunteers are needed to keep the project on schedule.
“We need both skilled and unskilled volunteers,” Shiningstar said. However, when volunteers sign up, she explained that they are put on an on-call list because members of the supervisory crew are not always available.
Shiningstar said they hope to set up a schedule for regular volunteer work, but that task is a juggling act between scheduling members of supervisory crews and the delivery of materials so volunteers can work.
Creamer added that the project is a little off schedule from first-phase projections, but grading will begin shortly, and with the help of volunteers, hopefully crews can catch up in the next couple of months.
“Global-village crews from other Habitat chapters will be arriving for a two-week period starting in November,” Creamer said. “Another global-village crew will follow in December, that crew staying over during Christmas.”
The college crews will start returning from early next year, Creamer pointed out.
Shiningstar added that local volunteers are needed to supplement the efforts being extended by the visiting groups, noting that the work goes faster when more hands are involved.
The walls that were erected on Saturday were created over the past several months by members of college crews who have been visiting the island, Shiningstar said.
These walls had been numbered and stored at the Hanapepe facility until the wall-raising event Saturday.
Once the floors are laid, snaplines indicate the layout for the walls, and following the number corresponding to the different walls and layout, volunteers quickly move the walls into position for anchoring by members of the Habitat supervisory crew and the more skilled volunteers.
Creamer said Saturday’s event saw one truckload of walls start the morning, and due to the quick progress by the volunteer crew, another truckload was brought over, with the majority of the walls for the second home being placed before the lunch break.
“The work goes quickly when there’re people,” she said.
Leaders of the Episcopal Church of West Kaua’i and St. John’s in ‘Ele’ele, are working on establishing a child-care program for volunteers who turn out to spend a few hours on the project, Creamer said. But that is still in the planning stage.
Additionally, Shiningstar said that managers of bigger companies have a hard time getting volunteers to commit for a half-day’s work. She noted that KIUC leaders had a lot of people who were willing to come out for an hour or an hour-and-a-half, but when they found out the stint was for a half-day, the numbers dwindled.
Ann Barnes, a KIUC official, was preoccupied with helping Kauai Food Bank leaders early Saturday morning for both the Zonta Club of Kauai as well as the Rotary Club of Kauai.
“I would be there, if I didn’t have to be here,” Barnes said from her Zonta post at the Wal-Mart food-collection station. “I would go in the afternoon, but I go to help the Rotary Club at Kukui Grove after this, and the KIUC group is only helping for half a day.”
Leaders at the Habitat for Humanity program attribute the booming real-estate market as part of the reason they have been having difficulty scheduling members of skilled crews to work on the homes, but, Creamer said, “We do with what we have.”
While volunteers worked on erecting walls at the two homes, the two homes that were raised during the recent Build-A-Thon were not without activity, as Creamer pointed out that inmates from the Kauai Community Correctional Center were working on those homes. Their task was to finish the walls and install drywall.
“They’ve been coming on a regular basis,” Creamer noted.
Within the corps of volunteers Saturday, Shiningstar noted that there were also individual volunteers who come out to help the future homeowners.
One of these was Jocelyn Brun, whose home was raised during the Build-A-Thon. Another was a future homeowner whom Shiningstar said has had no experience in this line of work.
Shiningstar added that one of the 11 names drawn for the future homes is a member of the Koloa Missionary Church, who has been coming out to volunteer on a regular basis.
She said that his reason for coming out to help is to be able to meet his new neighbors. “It’s about building a community,” he said.
People may volunteer by calling Habitat for Humanity at 335-0296, or 651-1652.
- Dennis Fujimoto, staff writer and photographer, may be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 253) or firstname.lastname@example.org