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3/19/2013 9:37:00 AM
Care-A-Vanners wrap up their 11th build
Habitat for Humanity group enjoyed their stay
Pictured are the Habitat Build team co-leaders (l to r) Jay Guild, Brenda Guild, Karen Greenstreet and Jeff Greenstreet.
Pictured are the Habitat Build team co-leaders (l to r) Jay Guild, Brenda Guild, Karen Greenstreet and Jeff Greenstreet.
Lois Stephens
Staff Reporter

The second wave of Habitat for Humanity Care-A-Vanners put their finishing touches on the 11th Habitat home in Alice on Friday and were headed either home, or in some cases, on to yet another build.

The ladies of First Presbyterian Church hosted a sit-down luncheon on Thursday, March 14, in honor of and thanks to these hard workers, who give so willingly and voluntarily of their time and effort to build homes for people who start out as total strangers to them.

This group was composed of workers from Texas, California, Washington, Illinois, Ohio, Indiana, Vermont and even Canada. One local man, Juan C. Reyes, has also pitched in his help for the past couple of years in building local Habitat homes.

"I feel like I've been blessed, and I want to share some of my blessings," he said with a smile.

Team co-leaders Jeff and Karen Greenstreet of Illinois said the home would be mostly completed when they left. The flooring will be laid by a professional.

The Greenstreets and their co-leaders Jay and Brenda Guild of Garland, Texas, were all on their sixth build in Alice.
They said they love to come here because, "Very few places do we go that we get a sit-down meal," they laughed. "We never get treated like this anywhere else! We just so appreciate Alice."

The Guilds have been Habitat workers since 2005.
"We have an RV and found out Habitat had a division called the Care-A-Vanners, so we decided to join. Our first house was in Santa Fe, N.M., and the leader came walking up to us and said, 'You look like electricians, so I'm going to have you wire the whole house.'"

The couple protested that they were not, and could not, but the leader told them he was a Master Electrician and he would teach them how to do it. So they did.

"That build taught us how to wire a whole house. It's what Habitat is really all about - not just the hand up, but it's learning as you go. Most of us come with a tool belt, a hammer and a pencil."

The Guilds said they enjoy being Habitat workers.

"For us it's not 'all work, no play - it's all play, all play,'" Jay Guild laughed. They do, however, plan their trips so that they have a week before and a week after their build schedules to sightsee in the area and "stop to smell the roses."

The builds are typically done in two "waves," and although this is the Guilds' sixth build in Alice, they said they actually were here for both builds one year, which is unusual. The Greenstreets became involved with Habitat 23 years ago on a church project. Habitat will sometimes have "blitz builds" of multiple homes underway in the larger cities and at the time the Greenstreets became involved, there were eight homes being built simultaneously in East St. Louis.

Jeff Greenstreet said they looked out into the yard of the home upon which they were working, and saw a woman standing in the yard, crying. They didn't realize she was the prospective homeowner until they spoke with her, learning that she had been homeless, a single mother with two children who had had many challenges and had worked very hard to turn her life around.

She applied for the home and was selected; but after she moved in, there were problems with the curbs and gutters on her street - every time it would rain, her yard would flood. So she decided to run for alderman to "fix it" and also work to better her community, and was elected, three times.

"That experience was probably the one that got us to really get involved," Jeff Greenstreet said.

Habitat volunteers frequently have little to no construction experience - simply a willingness and a desire to help.

Jeff Greenstreet is a retired airline pilot and Karen Greenstreet is a mother and former nurse. And judging from the smiles on their faces as they spoke, their "new job" proves the truth of the aphorism, "If you find a job you love, you'll never work a day in your life."

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