Kalamazoo interns had the opportunity to work with the local organization Habitat for Humanity. When looking for an organization to partner with we searched for a place that could accommodate our large 60 person group as well as someplace we could impact the community. For many of us this was our first time volunteering for this type of association. Habit for Humanity is a national organization that builds houses for low income families. This opportunity taught us something that you cannot teach in school or at an internship; an experience, a uniquely human experience.
With our group being so large we were divided into two groups, at two locations. Everyone met back together for lunch at a local park. The groups shared their experiences before lunch and were very excited to go back and complete the tasks that they had started.
To kick things off, half of the interns stayed at our original meeting location and got busy disassembling lumber that was previously a make shift courtroom used for a local high school play. For a lot of us, this type of work was worlds different from our responsibilities at the office. It gave us the opportunity to get up and get our hands dirty while giving back and most of all having some fun. There was a little bit of blood, A LOT of sweat and thankfully no tears shed throughout our exhausting day, but it was all in an effort to give back to those less fortunate. After our lunch break, this group moved to the Kalamazoo Habitat for Humanity warehouse where we unloaded the $3,000 of salvaged lumber that will be used later to build one of the Habitat homes. While some interns unloaded and organized wood, others were tasked with projects like reinforcing stairs and organizing the warehouse. In addition to the tasks, we had the opportunity to chat with our site leader from Habitat, Justin. Justin was amazingly insightful of the operations and impact that Habitat for Humanity has on our community and the homeowners. He was able to share some of his experiences while working for this outstanding organization that help paint the picture of how our “sweat equity” was benefitting real people. Overall, by the end of the day, there was not one intern that could say they didn’t feel like they made a difference. Our sore muscles and blistered hands certainly made sure of that the following day.
The second group went a local house to help with the build. The main project they wanted us to accomplish was to fill the basement with rocks. This house had problems with flooding in the past and by filling the basement with 4’ of rocks, putting a radon system in, and putting flooring on top of the rocks it would ensure that the house would be safe and dry. We had a group of people outside shoveling rocks into the basement through the egress windows and a group in the basement moving the rocks so an equal amount was distributed. Talk about a good workout! Another group of interns worked on an expansion that they were building off of the kitchen to accommodate the size of the family. They worked on framing and insulating, using lots of power tools (supervised of course). The most memorable moment for us was after lunch. The home owner came to work with us and on her house. Habitat requires that each family put in volunteer hours (400+) either working on their own houses or other projects. We were able to work side by side with her and hear her story. She has 4 beautiful children and extremely thankful for this opportunity she has been provided. Her family lives in the same neighborhood and the kids won’t have to change school districts (which we all know can be terrifying as a child). The house is expected to be done and ready to move in sometime in December and she is thinking of it as her very best Christmas Present ever.
As we all know the Stryker intern experience is packed full of opportunity and this was definitely one of the most rewarding opportunities we have been provided with this summer. We collectively put in 480 hours of sweat equity in one day! Those hours were used to serve an amazing cause, helping an organization fulfill dreams for those less fortunate. At the end of the day, we may have had low energy, be certainly high spirits!
Whitney Shane-Feldman & Megan Loney
Process and Technology & Human Resources
Instruments & Corporate – Kalamazoo, MI