Monday, April 06, 2009

Building (more than just) Goodness in April

So it’s a Saturday and at 7:30AM when I should be fast asleep in bed, I was dressed in jeans, a bright blue BGiA tee and boots and was trudging up Massie Road towards JulyDream’s apartment. Not a dream this! I and 25 other Darden students were headed out to the house of Sally Burton for the annual BGiA or Building Goodness in April build day.

The BGIA is a voluntary foundation that partners with local contractors and students from Darden to help in community construction and restructuring projects. This year there were eleven projects in all – 2 parks and 9 houses. A few months earlier, house captains scoured the C’ville countryside to identify projects. A number of inspections later, they determined the scope of the operations for build day and identified the number of hands they would need, in addition to arranging for local contractors. The fund raising for this event took place a few months ago, with students auctioning anything from a self-affirming keg party to a homecooked Indian meal for four to a month of free coffee at Hot Cakes. Pre-build day evening, all volunteers met their teams to get on the same page for logistics and what exactly was expected of them the next day. We also got our BGiA tees and posed for pictures!

That evening, after the pre-build meeting, a few friends and I headed out for our backwards dinner – coffee and cake followed by dinner and then more coffee – and I turned in by midnight (my definition of an early night) in preparation for the work that awaited the next day.

On Build Day, we drove down to our site and began work at 8:30A. I started with helping rake the yard and collecting all the junk into the two large dumpsters we had – those were empty that morning but piled high by evening. Then we emptied the house of all furniture and artifacts, cleaned the outside and inside, installed windows, plumbing, bathroom fixtures, a porch, a deck and peeled off the paint on all surfaces. Then we proceeded to apply fresh paint and give the house some new fixtures. We also gave Ms. Burton a new bed! I also managed to paint over one of her chickens!

This was a humbling experience. Ms. Burton had been an analyst at Merrill back in her hey days and as we cleaned through the layers of grime and dust on what were once very expensive and tasteful furniture, we couldn’t help but wonder how she descended to the state of neglect that she was in currently. It depressed us even more to know that she had no family save for her chickens, dogs and horses. The irony of her previous occupation – something that at least 40% of my incoming class had aspired to do last summer when Wall Street still “existed” – was not lost on any of us.

We wrapped up operations by 8P and headed home for a much needed shower. Right after that we all converged at the Wild Wings Café for the after-party where we shared pictures and experiences over some Bud and Tostitos and brownies. It was definitely a day spent well…
Three cheers to PR, TW and MV, the house captains for our project, for the food, drinks, fun and for letting us help!

Here's a video:

The team and Sally on the newly built porch in front of her renovated house.

The BGiA team on pre-build day.

More pictures at JulyDream.


'Smee! said...

Wow! And how are her dogs doing? How does she manage to care for all those animals?

JulyDream said...

Nice job!! I may skip this post and leave it to you. ;)

Metal said...

Congrats on your nomination for BoB awards


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