This spring, the college’s Gracenotes Volunteer Committee sponsored its third 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, Melinda Thomas, shares her experience.

By Melinda Thomas

Building a house in Santa Fe for Habitat for HumanityIt has been about two weeks since eight Berklee staff members returned from a trip to Santa Fe, New Mexico. We were partnering with Habitat for Humanity to help provide housing to people in need of homes, working on three separate properties at differing points in the building process. We got to build alongside AmeriCorps members, community volunteers, and two of the future homeowners, Colleen and Jorge. We also got to spend time exploring Santa Fe and the surrounding area. It is a trip I do not think any of us are soon to forget.

Tent Rocks Monument aerial viewThe trip started with a free day during which the group drove to Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument and hiked to the top. The hike up was gorgeous; we were surrounded by these interesting rock formations and climbed through naturally created pathways. However, the view from the top took the cake. If you ever find yourself in Santa Fe, definitely make the trip out to see this natural beauty.

Melinda helps to frame a houseThe four days following our free day were for hard work. We met up with the Habitat crew on Wednesday. Rob, the construction director, gave us some history of Habitat for Humanity and a tour of Jorge’s house, which was almost finished. (We ended up returning to Jorge’s house on Saturday to do some landscaping and got to work with Jorge and some of his friends!) Wednesday started out kind of slow with us cleaning the site of Colleen’s future home, but by Thursday, we were starting to frame the walls. It was such a great feeling to see each wall going up. The cement slab we started with was starting to resemble a house, and by Friday we were hammering oriented strand board (OSB) onto the frames. It was incredible to see the work we were able to accomplish in the three days we worked on that site. The property really went from a cement slab surrounded by trash and giant mounds of dirt to the roots of Colleen’s house. I hope that the group who travels to New Mexico next year can swing by Colleen’s house and give us an update.

Overall, the week was tremendously rewarding. My arms were sore for a few days from all of the hammering and shoveling, but it was well worth it. I am proud of the work that we did in a short period of time, and I’m also proud of the whole group for working hard every day and keeping a positive attitude, even when we had to carry four very heavy framing platforms from one site down the street to the other (it was all hands on deck for that task). If you ever get the chance to participate in a Habitat for Humanity trip, please consider it. It is an experience unlike any other.

Melinda Thomas Melinda Thomas is the project manager and operations support for the Office of Academic Affairs. She has been at the college for about three years and serves as the content manager for the Gracenotes Volunteer Committee at Berklee.