Craig Hissong | February 14, 2018
I’ve spent almost my entire professional career in Sales. The tools of my trade have evolved over that time, and these days, they include smart phones, laptops, and all sorts of high-powered devices that fit comfortably in a pocket or briefcase. Last month, a group of my Arraya co-workers and I were given the opportunity to try out a set of tools that were completely foreign to us. While they were definitely high-powered, they weren’t the sort of thing you could use and then forget about – not if the aches and pains many of us felt the next day were any indication!
Back in late January, Arraya spent a day working with the folks from Habitat for Humanity Philadelphia at one of their downtown build sites. I can’t say enough good things about the job those people do, building affordable housing for those in need. Every single person from Habitat that I spoke with showed a level of knowledge and passion that was just infectious. It was an honor to be welcomed by them with open arms, despite most of us knowing more about input jacks than, say, a jackhammer. (Although, I learned more about the latter than I ever thought I would that day.)
A group of us from Arraya arrived at the build site, just a short walk from Temple University’s campus, on a predictably freezing January morning. However, the Habitat team wasted no time in helping us warm up. After a brief orientation, we were outfitted with the appropriate safety gear and then it was right to work. We were split up into multiple crews and paired with an expert from Habitat who showed us the ropes. Some of us spent the day laying floor joists, while others were up and down ladders, wrapping the future home in a weatherproof barrier.
I had no trouble forgetting the frigid temperatures in my job: clearing out a run of old sidewalk in front of the property. This had to go so electrical and plumbing lines could be run. My crew armed ourselves with pry bars and pick axes, and went to it, breaking up the sidewalk and lugging the chunks to an awaiting dumpster. As we soon realized, heavier duty machinery would be necessary – and we would be allowed to help run it. After learning the ins and outs of proper jackhammer operation from our extremely patient sidewalk crew leader Stefone, we each took a turn with it. I like to think I’m in pretty good shape, but, let me tell you, running a jackhammer requires a whole different kind of fitness. When we broke for lunch, I think we were all eager for the chance to rest up. Of course, it was only a temporary breather. There was still plenty of sidewalk in need of our attention that afternoon.
At the end of the day, the sidewalk had put up a heck of a fight, but we came out ahead. From what I could see as we began cleaning up, it looked like each of the teams had made some impressive headway in their projects. As we all went our separate ways, I think we were all feeling the same thing: sore! More importantly though, we were also feeling good about the work we’d put in.
I wasn’t sure what to expect going in to the build day, but looking back on it now, I really can’t express how grateful I am to Arraya and Habitat for letting me have this experience. I was able to work shoulder-to-shoulder with co-workers that I don’t often get to spend time with and I did so in support of the great work Habitat does for less fortunate families in the Philadelphia area. I came away from that day with so many fond memories as well as a renewed respect for the men and women who build all of our communities. Speaking on behalf of myself and my colleagues, I know we’re all eager to devote more time to this incredibly worthy cause and once again set aside our everyday tools in favor of something with a little more kick!