Volunteer Project: The Rebuilding Center


My shoulders are sore this morning. Not your typical hunched-over-a-computer-all-day kind of sore. Sore in the front of my shoulders, between my arms and where I would imagine my pecs would be. I want to tell you that I been working out: toning or shaping or whatever. But that is not the case. “Working out” is not where I get my burn, just like the ladies that swapped out their weekly aerobics class for a shift packing food at the food bank, I get my exercise from life.

So what activity was my work out that left me so sore? I spent my evening ripping hundreds of nails out of salvaged wood at The Rebuilding Center. I was so focused on getting  those all nails out of all that wood that I didn’t even imagine that I could hurt this bad today. I guess all that gratuitous grunting and claims of “feats of strength” have finally caught up with to me.

What is the Rebuilding Center? and How Did I Get Involved?

Essentially The Rebuilding Center seeks to make home repairs affordable for everyone in the community and divert from the waste stream by encouraging the use of salvaged & reclaimed building materials. Of course, I love it!

As you may recall, I signed up to volunteer with this shift last week through Hands in Portland. They made it super easy. When I arrived, there were already a few people standing around awkwardlywaiting for someone to tell them what to do. I knew right away that these were my people.

Once it looked like everyone that was gonna be there was already there, we were directed sign some forms and listen to a schpeel from their volunteer coordinator. He explained that the mission of The Rebuilding Center , and outlined the different programs that they run: ReFind furniture sale, salvage materials store, deconstruction services and volunteer driving & community outreach programs.

What did they make you do?

After the short orientation the coordinator led the group to one of the warehouse where they had piles & piles of wood waiting. First he broke us off into teams to put away new donations. Already everyone was chatting and introducing themselves to one another. It was kinda cool.

After we finished sorting wood pieces, I got recruited to pick up nails using this super magnet that you rolled across the floor. I thoroughly enjoyed this task.  The clink of the nail getting sucked up by the magnet was addicting. It felt like a video game.

I was even paired up with this really rad lady that explained how she was there because her friends have been volunteering together on for a while now. They just finished up six different projects, and now they are coming back for more. What a great idea!

After we freed the floor from every nail we could find, they brought over loads of newly salvaged wood that had all those hidden and protruding lil’ demons all over them.  Some of those nails were pretty committed to their wood, and it would take a combination of many tools to free them from one another. As one volunteer put it, “these have to be some of the first nails ever invented.”

As you can probably tell, this was my favorite task, sore shoulders and all.  The time flew. Next thing I know, I’m out of breath, covered in wood chips, standing in a pile of cast out crooked victories. I look up and everyone but me and my newest friends are already cleaning up and getting ready to go. Wow. That’s something I didn’t know was in me.

So How Would I Rate My Experience?

The Rebuilding Center has all the elements of a successful volunteer program. They did a great job explaining the breadth of their endeavors, telling us how we could be helpful, and keeping everyone busy and productive. From a volunteer programs prospective–it’s spot on. From a volunteer’s perspective–highly recommended.

To be honest, it was a really enjoyable evening activity. I think I’d like to do it again. It would be even better if I could convince some of my peers to join me. Anyone? Anyone? It’ll be bangin’. I promise.

So Ya Wanna….
… Volunteer with the Rebuilding Center?
… Donate to the Rebuilding Center?
Volunteer through Hands on Portland?