Volunteers just finished up two sessions at Greer Mill in Missouri. About a dozen total volunteers took hammers and drills in hand to stabilize the 130-year-old mill and rebuild the loading dock there. Although the crew battled rain and summer heat, and perhaps a few bumps in the road, Greer Mill work was nonetheless completed last week.
Volunteers had a great time getting to know one another while working on the mill. It’s that sense of camaraderie our volunteers achieve on these projects that keeps them coming back year after year and project after project. Newbie volunteer Allison Hagg commented that her favorite part of the project was “just being able to meet, work with, and get to know amazing and passionate people that I never in a million years would have been introduced to if not for this project.” Want to meet some amazing people with a variety of skills – not necessarily in construction – that are happy and outgoing? Join a HistoriCorps project.
Roger Stevens seconded the feeling of friendship he encountered at Greer Mill and says he learned a ton from others -especially construction from Pat – and felt a sense of accomplishment at what they had done by the end of the project. He loved “seeing the front of the mill look so good after our work. It really seemed like we made a difference.” The group pulled off the shingles from the roof, fixed some of the siding, and built stairs and a small porch area. When you’re saving a piece of history, you know you’re work is for good!
Volunteer Ruth Ann Skaggs also loves making friends on projects. This is the third year she’s been working on Greer Mill, and she says she enjoys “meeting people from far away places and becoming a team with camaraderie.” She emphasized that being a team is key: “We all learned that we have unknown skills and working as a team we can do big things.”
Despite a bit of trepidation before tackling this project, Allison also felt successful by the end of the project, knowing she contributed to restoring a piece of history out in the Ozarks. She received some great tips and support from the project supervisor and crew leader, two people who are integral to any project’s success: “I’m pretty much the last thing you think of when you hear “construction worker”. I’m built like a twig and pretty much over-all small. I wasn’t sure how this experience was going to go, but I was supported fully throughout it. The second to last day I was roofing and Pat came up to look at my work. He told me it looked wonderful and he also said something that might be the proudest moment of my life. He said to me, “I was talking to Will (the site archaeologist) and I mentioned that, to be honest, I didn’t think you’d last this long. Will replied ‘Yeah, but even though a steel cable is skinny, it’s strong’. He was right, you’re really tough. I’m proud of you”. I can’t think of any time someone gave me a compliment on my eyes or my looks that ever felt as good as what Pat told me that day.” Two shouts for our Greer mill project supervisor, Patrick Kennedy, who knows how to motivate his crew!
Even when things go awry on a project, there are some great people who just love to solve a problem. Ruth Ann is one of those people and she awed the group when, after running out of lumber on a Saturday when every lumber yard was closed, she stopped by local businesses and finally the police station to request assistance. Her persistence paid off – “An officer made a phone call, I was told to go to the lumber warehouse, waited for someone to open the doors and load my lumber. I was able to pay and be on my way, driving 30 miles back to the worksite. All in about 2 hours! We were able to complete our steps and meet our construction goals. There are good people all over who want to help if you open up for them.”
The group even got a cooking lesson – and cooking for a group isn’t easy, especially when you’re out in the backcountry! On the last night of the project, volunteers Robin and Rick taught the group how to make peach cobbler in a dutch oven on the campfire – wouldn’t you know it, it came out delicious!
We also received a bit of press for the project – you can read the article online here.
Each HistoriCorps project is different but on every one, you’ll get to meet some incredible people, learn new skills, and experience a pretty cool place – all while saving a part of history. Join a project this summer!