Isabel Arredondo does not come across as the nervous type. She is a confident, cheerful and very funny 16 year old. She hopes to be a physical therapist one day, but medical internships are hard to come by in Asheville. She was a little nervous though when she learned her summer CAYLA (City of Asheville Youth Leadership Academy) internship assignment was with Asheville Area Habitat for Humanity. She worried that people might be mean to her, or that she would put in a screw the wrong place and a whole house would crumble to the ground. And she envisioned having to get up early to be on a jobsite while her peers were sleeping in every day. Isabel quickly realized that Habitat staff (and volunteers) are kind, that she could not single handedly ruin a Habitat house, and that being on a jobsite is actually a lot of fun — and includes lots of cookies, muffins and watermelon.
She noted these and other observations recently when she made a short presentation to our Board of Directors during which she recapped her internship as “a very positive experience overall”. The bilingual SILSA student admits she had many misconceptions about Habitat and the Habitat ReStore. They were shattered within the first few days though as she stepped out of her comfort zone and into work in Construction, Home Repair, the ReStore and the Office. She said attending the key passing for a family whose house she had worked on is something she will always remember. The internship “was life-changing” and she now tells her friends that they should volunteer with Habitat.
Ed McGowan, Asheville Habitat’s Finance Director, expressed his gratitude for Isabel’s help: “We were truly blessed to have Isabel with us this summer. She is a very poised, intelligent and helpful young woman who has continued the strong partnership between Asheville Area Habitat for Humanity (AAHH) and the City’s CAYLA program. She has set the bar very high for future CAYLA interns at AAHH. I am very proud of Isabel’s contribution to our mission and I’m very proud to call her my friend.”
Everyone deserves a decent place to live, and everyone can do something to make that possible for another family. Isabel did that by volunteering with us for six weeks. Like our past three CAYLA interns, Isabel is now an advocate for our work. And although she still plans to pursue physical therapy, we have a feeling she will always have a heart for Habitat. Thank you Isabel for sharing your warm smile, your contagious enthusiasm, and your willing spirit with us this summer!