Monday, January 12, 2015

Habitat Global Village build #2: West Hawaii!

Our Cambodia Habitat for Humanity Global Village build was one of our favorite volunteer experiences. Because we had raised so much for that build, we almost had enough to fund an additional solo GV build for one of us. The running joke was always to build in Hawaii on our way back to the mainland... Haha, right?

One day in November I checked the GV schedule, sent an email, and within a day I was officially invited to join Team Cocores in Kona for their January build. And within a week or so, I'd raised the final few dollars to participate. Haha, indeed!

everything is awesome!
everything is cool when you're part of a team!

I've already sung Habitat's praises and explained our Cambodia build in depth, so I will keep this one brief. Each GV build is different; perhaps the one consistent thing is not knowing exactly what you will be doing on the build when you sign up. For this week-long build on Kona, our team of 14 helped with drywall and exterior finish work on this house:


Very soon, Kahealani will be able to move into this home with her family. Throughout the week this lovely mom shared her positive energy, excitement, smiles, and gratitude with the group. It was a pleasure and privilege to work alongside her as well as the West Hawaii Habitat construction crew and Team Cocores.

prime time

we spent a lot of time looking like the dancing Charlie Brown kids

a rare quiet moment on the construction site

Kahealani and Elsa

This home is part of an ongoing Habitat West Hawaii initiative to improve homes that were provided to native islanders about 40 years ago. These homes are now in need of repair, and the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands has limited loans available for upkeep. Habitat West Hawaii helps out by refurbishing homes to make them safer and healthier for residents. Read more here...

almost after - painted and almost trimmed

It wasn't all caulk, primer and paint though.  As with the Cambodia build, Team Cocores had opportunities throughout the week to experience the local culture and true Hawaiian hospitality.

lunches at Aunty Gwen's
(a local Habitat supporter who welcomes
GV teams into her home with open arms)

a tiki guard at Pu'uhonua o Honaunau National Historical Park

sunset lu'au at the Waikoloa Beach Marriott
(we clean up nice)

Polynesian fire dancing at Te 'E'a O Te Turama Hula Halau

The team also enjoyed beautiful beaches, whale watching, Volcano National Park, and night snorkeling with manta rays (I skipped this one - Patrick and I are going to do the dive later).

volunteering is HARD!

While the Cambodia GV build will probably always be my favorite, I'm glad I had the opportunity to experience a build in West Hawaii. The island pace was definitely challenging to this former IT project manager but I enjoyed the overall team energy and I was able to go at my own high-strung speed most of the time so it all worked out.

Half of the group was 25 or younger, and afternoons of 'N Sync blaring from the radio were also a challenge - I'm sooooo old school New Kids on the Block!  Seriously, though, during the week I had some really interesting conversations with "the kids," and I was impressed that they chose to spend their winter breaks or limited vacation time with Habitat for Humanity. I hope they all keep it up, either with Habitat or some other worthwhile organizations.

we're the kids in America, whoa - oh!
(note: only 8 of these were "the kids" - sorry, Ann!)

West Hawaii Habitat currently builds all over the island and also has a ReStore for all your home needs. If you'd like to donate, volunteer, or otherwise support this affiliate, please check out their web site!

To see what Global Village builds are coming up, check the Habitat International schedule here. They're super fun and I highly recommend the experience to anyone looking to travel and make a difference!

(p.s. HUGE thanks to all my donors who helped make this happen!)


  1. that tiki idol caused Greg Brady to wipe out on his surf board!

    1. I wish there was a Brady Bunch tourist itinerary like there is for the Goonies in Oregon.