Small Things With Great Love

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By Maria Nappo, AmeriCorps Construction Site Leader

There are a lot of small things that go into building a home, and during my year of service as an AmeriCorps, I have truly seen the words of Mother Teresa come to life: "Not all of us can do great things, but we can do small things with great love."

This past September, I began my  year for AmeriCorps with Habitat for Humanity of Montgomery County with the construction team. When I arrived, the rehab work at 130 Wayne Avenue in Norristown was still in the beginning stages. It’s hard to believe that Annette is moving on May 21.


Back in September, we were demolishing the interior walls, ripping out the layer after layer of flooring, and breaking up the concrete in the unfinished basement. Now that the home is nearly complete, I have been able to see everything that goes into building a home with a family in need. Aside from the screws, nails, lumber, drywall, plywood, and insulation, there is so much more. So many volunteers – as both individuals and groups - have put their time, effort, enthusiasm, and knowledge into this home and all of our homes. The amount of people that have given a part of themselves to Habitat Montco is astounding. 

I find every accomplishment in our homes to be a huge achievement. A day of work grinding plaster off of a brick wall may not seem like a lot to someone, but having groups of volunteers put their time and effort into that task has made for a beautiful statement in the home – an exposed brick wall - that would never have been accomplished without them. 

With the help of our amazing volunteers, we soon moved into the early stages of framing. I built my first wall under the careful eye of our dedicated and skilled volunteers, and I was taught how to frame windows by our construction staff. These stages call for all hands on deck to unload new lumber, fire-proof the home, insulate the walls, put up the drywall, and paint. Most of the smaller tasks during this stage usually go unnoticed, such as installing light switch, outlet, and vent covers, swapping out cabinetry knobs, and installing the door knobs. While these tasks may seem minute, they are time-consuming and the help from volunteers brought us one day closer to finishing the home.

While it's not necessary to have construction skills to volunteer with Habitat, some of our volunteers are able to use skills they have developed while building with us or in their careers to make our homes even better. A retired electrician has wired all of the electric at 130 Wayne Avenue, saving us countless dollars on hiring someone for the job. Another skilled volunteer wasn’t able to give of his time on the build site, so instead, he donated his time and materials to restore a crumbling stain glass window that was original to the home. Without his expertise, we would not have been able to keep the window and would have lost a great treasure to the home.

Without our volunteers, Habitat would not be able to reach as many families as we do. The dedication of 130 Wayne Ave on May 21, 2016 will be Habitat Montco’s 61st Home Dedication. That's 61 families in safe and affordable living, and countless volunteers that have helped put them there. So, for those of you out there thinking, “I am just one person, what could I do to help build a home?” remember those words from Mother Teresa.  Every little bit helps bring us one step closer to welcoming a family into their new home.

If you are interested in serving as an AmeriCorps with Habitat Montco, CLICK HERE to find position descriptions for Resource Development VISTA, Family Services Coordinator, and 2 Construction Crew Leaders.  If you have any questions, please contact Cara at