Monday, June 17, 2013

On our way!

Hello All!

Sorry about the weeks of absence, the past few days have been absolutely awesome (if a little chaotic). Annamaria and I arrived in Providence sufficiently nervous to meet our 29 new biking buddies, and were very happy to learn that everyone in our trip is really chill and have great senses of humor, we're totally set to bike across the country with these folks! Anyway, here are some of the photos we've taken so far - expect more at some point!

           Before we leave NY for RI

                     All of the bikes!

          First build day in Providence

              New Jersey baby!

              High Point park in NJ

    We got lost, but look what we found!


        Pretty church in Ashfield (?) PA

       View from Schuylkill Haven, PA

     The whole crew at a playground in    
                   Stroudsberg PA

                     Harrisburg, PA

Friday, May 31, 2013

We can almost taste it -

- the Providence air, that is.

This is (almost) the day we've all been waiting for. Annamaria and I only have SEVEN DAYS LEFT to lounge around and sleep in until we arrive in Providence for our Bike&Build orientation! We are both well on our way to being ready for the journey (actually I considered myself ready last November, but apparently I had other things to do). Here's my checklist:

FUNDRAISE $4,500 for affordable housing.                                         $4,300/$4,500
RIDE 500 miles.                                                                                      ~430/500
BUILD for 10 hours at an affordable housing site.                                 12/10
RESEARCH affordable housing and CREATE a presentation.             COMPLETE

I don't know Annamaria's exact info - but we know that we both will bike away from Providence on June 9 for an awesome summer.

These affordable housing presentations seemed annoying at first, mostly because it was work I had to do after graduating college - and who wants to do that? But it really wasn't bad. The homeowner I interviewed from Las Cruces, NM told me all about her experiences before and after working with Habitat for Humanity. I was shocked. It's the kind of thing you read about but always assume doesn't regularly happen - "This would never happen where I'M from, people don't live like that EVERYWHERE." Yes, they do.

Let me give you just a taste of what life was like in her previous apartment:
- Mold. Everywhere.
- Holes under the sinks and in the walls. (Landlord never fixed it.)
- Neighborhood: unsafe and drug-filled. She was uncomfortable leaving her children alone at any time of day.
- Kids sick all the time. Asthma and coughing for months on end.
- The mother herself diagnosed with depression and bipolar.
- None of the family would have company over.

Now what life is like in her Habitat for Humanity home:
- Clean conditions.
- Safe neighborhood - she has started going to school during the day and working nights and weekends, leaving her kids at home alone.
- Family has normal allergies, etc. but no lasting illness.
- Mother's depression and bipolar symptoms have vanished, self-confidence has gone up.
- The house is now a home for friends and family of kids and mother.

Amazing right? All I could do was congratulate her on getting out of her previous apartment and doing all the hard work that was required of her to move out. She told me she felt empowered after working for two years to get out, and that the two years she's lived in her new home have felt like a dream - "I still have to pinch myself sometimes."

So yea, affordable housing is important to the normal folk of America, and I'm pretty darn excited to start biking and building in ONE WEEK to help living conditions of people in other towns across the U.S.

In closing:

A short celebration of the fact that I have officially GRADUATED from Stony Brook University with my Bachelor's in Biomedical Engineering! And congratulations to all of my fellow graduates, from Stony Brook and elsewhere, because we are officially free (unless you're going to grad school).

I also want to send out a huge THANK YOU to everyone who has donated or supported Annamaria and myself in any way. We need to have a list of people to send post cards, photos, and knick-knacks to along the way, eh AM?

More later,