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June 27, 2019

The Heartbeat of Habitat

By Kristen McCulloch

Every Tuesday morning, Al Rodgers gets to the warehouse early to unlock the doors before the rest of the crew arrives. The morning begins with a bit of fellowship and a quick cup of coffee before moving on to a review of that week’s needs. Al keeps a list of start dates for each house and, based on their blueprints, he knows how many components need to be made each month.

And then they get right to work—not a moment is wasted. With the buzz of chop saws and the pop of nail guns, the warehouse is run like a well-oiled machine; each crew member diligently focused on the task at hand with the mission close to their hearts.

The warehouse is the hub for Habitat Charlotte’s construction crews. It’s the birthplace of framing components – walls, windows and doorways – for each new home and stores everything from electrical appliances to paint and scaffolding. As the need for affordable housing in our community has grown, so has the ingenuity and production of the Tuesday Crew.

Klaus, a wood engineer from Germany, harnessed his creativity and innovation to develop a jig (a device that holds pieces of wood into place, guiding the tools) for each component the Tuesday Crew assembles. All the other members credit Klaus’ expertise with streamlining their production.

Simply put, without the Tuesday Crew, we wouldn’t be able to do what we do.

Al using a jig for bending aluminum column caps.

David nailing together a window frame using one of Klaus' wooden jigs.

Before joining the Tuesday crew, Al worked as a sales engineer. He began building with Habitat Charlotte as a volunteer with his church and continued to work on builds for the next 25 years. Like most of the crew members, he was recruited by a previous volunteer and, after two years, he was asked to come early and unlock the door for the rest of the group. Al accepted, not realizing what receiving the keys to the warehouse meant: he had become the Tuesday Crew leader.

Other members of the crew include Randy, who has been with the crew for 11 years. He has always enjoyed working with his hands and wanted to get more involved with his community after retirement. He makes sure everything is cut with efficiency to create as little waste as possible. Jay mans the chop saw, cutting the wood into various lengths required in each component. Chuck, a retired chemistry teacher who has been with the crew for about seven years, builds the window frames alongside David, a retired general contractor who started volunteering with the Tuesday Crew shortly after moving to Charlotte six years ago.

And that’s just the start. There’s also Andy, Andy, Alan, Bill, Bob, Jan, Jennifer, John, Mario, Scott, Stephanie and Steve.

After a long day of work when the machines are shut down and the garage doors are locked, the crew leaves with a feeling of accomplishment and pride; knowing that families throughout Charlotte will walk through the door of their newly built home and find hope for a brighter future.

If you want to create your own lasting impact by becoming a regular volunteer, you can learn more here:

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