Surprise! The C.H.O.I.C.E House is complete! For the past couple of months, we’ve had our heads down and our eyes on the prize, but the team couldn’t leave Hale County without one last update. Keep reading to see how we’ve been, what we’ve done, and where we’re going!
Picking up where our last update left off: shortly after drywall, both our team and Patriece’s Home team set an opening date, August 26th! That meant one final Hale County summer, culminating in a packed porch party to celebrate two teams, two projects, and two years of work. So, we certainly had to get to it on-site.
In July, we focused our efforts on wrapping up our exterior and landscaping strategy. In keeping with the units’ ADA compliance, we developed an accessible route to both the units and washer dryer volume using a poured sidewalk and driveway. A big “Thank you!” to our neighbor and local concrete finisher, Charles Woods, for his crew’s help on these last two pours. Also outside, we planted three trees—a trio of black gums that we hope will provide color, delight, and most importantly, shade, in the years to come. Finishing out the courtyard space, we reused the old sidewalk pieces to create a boundary between the current courtyard and the “mowable meadow,” the portion of the site designated for strategic expansion as C.H.O.I.C.E. and their housing programs grow.
As August arrived, we moved back inside to start all of our finishes: flooring, tiling, shelving, trim, you name it! We also welcomed a bonus member to the team. Davis’ fiancé, Elisia, joined us from Oregon for the final six weeks of the project. To keep the momentum going, the team split up to focus on different finishes. AC claimed the built-in shelving and appliance nooks, Davis took on installing the floor tile and LVT with Elisia, and Hailey learned how to tile two showers in a matter of days!
The final work week very serendipitously aligned with the time-honored tradition of “Neckdown.” In our last full week on site, we were fortunate to have over a dozen of the new students hard at work. With the countdown to our opening on, the new crew helped us touch up paint, tidy up the units, and set up for one heck of an opening on Saturday. If that wasn’t enough of a group push to the finish, we even had some very special helpers fly all the way from Vancouver, Canada and Kansas City, Missouri. Thanks Jackie and Caitlyn!
We then wrapped up the week (and two years!) of hard work with a joint project opening. Nearly 200 hundred friends, family, and community members showed up and braved 100+ degree temperatures to celebrate with us, packing the front porch to enjoy Newbern Mercantile BBQ and an excellent veggie spread from Abadir’s. It meant the world to us to see those we hold nearest and dearest all in one place to watch us cut the ribbon on a project that we know Emefa and all of C.H.O.I.C.E. will use well as they continue serving their clients and community. Even better, we got to open right alongside our friends on Patriece’s Home team!
So, what’s next? In the coming days, the team will pack up and move on to our next chapters. Hailey is taking her talents to Spain, where she’s working as a Language and Cultural Assistant at a school in Madrid. Raymond is sticking around Hale County for a while to work with the Studio. As for Davis, he’s Portland bound, though you might soon hear wedding bells for him and Elisia on a vineyard in Virginia. And AC? For now, she’s heading West!
Thank you again to everyone that joined us on this journey the past two years. Words cannot express how grateful we are to this place and every single person that’s ever been a part of it. Until we see you all again, make good C.H.O.I.C.E.S.
-AC, Hailey, Davis, + Raymond