This spring, the college’s Gracenotes Volunteer Committee sponsored its second annual trip to New Mexico. A group of nine staff and faculty members traveled to Santa Fe to work with Habitat for Humanity. Here, one of the trip participants, Brittany Costa, shares her experience.

By Brittany Costa

A new adventure.
Houses, we set out to build.
Many lives were changed.

This haiku says so little and so much about the Gracenotes 2018 volunteer trip to Santa Fe, New Mexico. We were a crew of nine faculty and staff from Berklee and Boston Conservatory, coming together to enhance the infrastructure of our community while physically building another. Words cannot express the gratitude I have for this opportunity that Berklee afforded us. Not many organizations would extend this benefit to its employees and I truly hope the college continues to offer this incredible volunteer trip each year. As many of us learned on this trip, we focus so intently on our work throughout the year that we rarely leave our departments to collaborate and meet others across the college. Gracenotes has provided an outlet for us to do that while conducting community service, something we all care about, in an area where there is an exceptional need.

Gracenotes 2018 building a coyote fenceOur crew was one of many talents. We are artists, teachers, performers, graphic designers, musicians, leaders, dancers, marketing gurus, builders, theater technical directors, producers, movers, and shakers. I learned from and was inspired by each member of our team. We all had our own reasons to apply for and volunteer for this trip. For many of us, we were working outside of our comfort zones, wielding hammers and circular saws. For others, it was a great way to give back while utilizing skills and expertise they already had. Regardless, we all took to our tasks without hesitation, with an eagerness to learn, and a willingness to help. Whether we were framing a house, ram boarding floors, caulking walls for insulation, painting the finest lines, digging trenches for irrigation systems, or putting up adobe walls, we did it in our own unique way. Every day our work site was filled with laughter, carefully curated playlists, singing, interpretive dancing, posing for fun videos/photos (to prove to our loved ones back home that yes, we do know how to swing a hammer), and hard work.

One of the most memorable moments for me were the group meetings we had before and after each work day where we met some of the future homeowners we would work alongside, discussed our goals and accomplishments for the day, and why each of us was there. This allowed us to get to know one another, learn more about Habitat for Humanity, Santa Fe, AmeriCorps, and Berklee. We had an outstanding team of Habitat for Humanity and AmeriCorps workers (Daniel, Cal, and Alexander) leading us on the site. They were welcoming, communicative, informative, patient, and willing to teach us how to do many of the tasks, even if it meant delaying productivity to give everyone a lesson on welding. Luckily, our team was so efficient and productive that we made up for lost time. Because of the work ethic and positive attitudes of our group, accompanied by great guidance from Daniel, Cal, and Alexander, we were able to make strides on several houses in just one week.

Many thanks to Berklee for providing this opportunity, and to AmeriCorps and Habitat for Humanity in Santa Fe for being so welcoming and helpful and doing incredible work. It was a pleasure to hear future homeowners’ stories, learn about their process, and how Habitat for Humanity has helped them earn a home. Lastly, thanks to the 2018 group of volunteers, I won’t forget our sing-alongs, nicknames, adventures, morning stretch sessions, the hike to tent rocks, and MEOW MEOW! Aka Meow Wolf.

Brittany CostaBrittany Costa, M.S., is the Music Therapy department coordinator at Berklee. She has been on staff at Berklee since October 2016. Outside of her administrative role at Berklee, she is a performing clarinet player, a Staff Sergeant in the Army National Guard, a foodie, and a dog parent. She is also pursuing an additional Master’s degree in Music Therapy.