BOONE — For the first time, Watauga County Habitat for Humanity hosted the Habitat Road Trip Crazies for a Blitz Build in the High Country. The build started at 8 a.m. on Saturday, Sept. 21, in the GreenWood subdivision in Todd with only the subfloor of the house laid, and the house was completed by about 5 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 22.
One of the founders of the Habitat Crazies is Tom Gerdy, who has spent the past 20 years on build sites to give people fresh starts with a new home. The Crazies are based out of Lynchburg, Va., but as a group, they have traveled all over the East Coast with “habititus,” a self-named addiction to Habitat for Humanity. There are approximately 50 regular volunteers with the Crazies.
“A few of us went out for a build and people came to help us, and we wanted to pay it forward,” Gerdy said.
The Crazies were joined by volunteers from the Watauga Habitat affiliate and Appalachian State’s App Builds a Home program, which brought the total number of volunteers to more than 150. The university also sponsored the build, which paid for half of the cost of the home.
Allison Jennings from Watauga’s Habitat for Humanity was in awe of the community effort. “Only the subfloor was down this morning,” she said around noon on Saturday. “Now they’re starting on putting the second floor on.”
This newest addition to the GreenWood subdivision in Todd belongs to the Barker family. David, Amy, Nathan and Kali were all present at the build and excited about their new home.
Just before taking a lunch break on Saturday, the team of volunteers met around the hospitality tents. Gerdy addressed the crowd about their progress and reminded everyone to sign a piece of the house foundation before the day’s end.
“Nathan and Kali,” he said, “I promised you this morning that you’d get to go in your rooms by the time we finished today, and it looks like we’re going to be able to do that for you.”
Chuck Doremus, who has been a part of the Crazies for 19 years, dressed as a referee because “someone has to make sure that the rules are being followed,” he said with a laugh. Some Crazies wear tuxedo t-shirts on builds while some have their own signature pieces that they wear, such as Gerdy’s neon hardhat with a mohawk growing out of it.
“It just fills your heart. You can’t save the world,” Doremus said, ”but you can help some of it.”
Gerdy said that since the group was founded 20 years ago, they’ve completed “probably a couple hundred” houses. A successful Blitz Build, such as the Barker’s new home, involves building the outside, adding siding, laying flooring on the inside, building the inside walls, and installing insulation, windows and doors.
To learn more or to volunteer with Watauga Habitat for Humanity, visit www.wataugahabitat.org.