Seventh Mission: The Cub Corner Preschool

By: Deacon Joe Winblad, Team Leader

Gifts for theTool Room

Reflecting on the events, the concerns, the disappointments and the accomplishments of the 7th Mission team’s trip to New Orleans, I am mindful of the scripture passage from Matthew 25:40:  "And the King will say to them in reply, ‘Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me’.” What could be more inspiring than to help restore a preschool play yard for the Cub Corner Preschool operated by the Carmelite Sisters at their Mother house location? This Preschool provides tender, loving care for infants and very young children in order that their parents are able to earn an income to support their families.

The pre-planning began in January with e-mail and faxes to Sr. Gwen, the director of Cub Corner’s, about her restoration plans for the Preschool’s return to their original location before the Katrina flooding. Over the next nine weeks team members; Jim Janicek, Mike Santarelli, and Joe Winblad together with Sister Gwen were able to consult, design, and approve the plans for a 16x 20 foot deck, design the plans for three swing sets each with 4 swings, and plan for a free form tricycle path which turned out to be about ten yards of concrete that was poured for the path.

On March 8th, a cold wintery day, at 7:00 in the morning the Mission Team members gathered to load the three rental vans and head out toward Kankakee and on to Effingham. Within about 45 minutes the dark cold day changed to a sunny almost cloudless sky and the evidence of the previous day’s storm was only evident with traces of snow along the shady side of the road. We arrived in Memphis around 4:00 PM. After registering at the motel we decided to go to 5:00 PM evening mass, after which we returned to enjoy happy hour at the motel before heading out for the evening meal.

In the morning many of the team were down for breakfast by 7:15 AM and all the vans were packed and on the road by a little after eight. After a stop at Home Depot and a Subway sandwich we were prepared for the final stretch to New Orleans. Our last leg was very pleasant traveling into Louisiana; with signs of spring we arrived at the Carmelite Sisters’ house about 3:40 in the afternoon. Once the introductions and the rooms were assigned and gear stored, our enthusiastic crew wanted to get started. Some began to look at how to lay out the bike path and some started to move and arrange the lumber for the deck. At supper we had a discussion about what we needed for a fast start on Monday, and a “go for group” was selected to visit Home Depot and purchase the needed supplies.

Digging the Walkway

By Monday morning breakfast was set for 7:00AM and coffee would be brewed beforehand by Ruth. We had discussed and agreed to start work by 8:00AM. Some were ready before time and they were the ones gathering the tools, electric cords, shovels and whatever was handy to carry out to the job site. Once the tools were set out Jim and Mike began to trim square the ends of the 2x6's for the deck frame. They then began to assemble the frame and check it for square. Richard, Jim V, Tony, Buzz, and Bud began to lay a long hose along the outer edge of the bike path and starting from the concrete pad to remove the unneeded dirt so the forms to hold the wet concrete could be put into position.

We assembled the saw horses and gathered a list of what other items would be needed. I asked Tony to check how much time and what was needed for the interior painting of Deacon Dwight’s house.

Richard and the digging crew had made progress with about 2/3 of the path dug out. Richard was then able to start assembling the stakes and hardboard forms for the bike path. The crew continued digging and I helped Richard assemble the stake and hardboard forms on the work table. The day was done.After a delicious dinner prepared by Ruth, our great cook, we held our evening prayer and debriefing of the day’s accomplishment. A list of needed materials was gathered, and Richard, Jim V and Joe agreed to chase for the needed supplies after the meeting.

With the weather forecast indicating storms in the morning and paint already on site at Dwight’s house, we agreed that if it rained we would paint the interior of Dwight’s home on Tuesday. The storm came about 4:30AM and at 6:00 AM there was a downpour. Our Lord indicated our priority for that day. With Richard completing the forms and correcting the water damage to the forms and Buzz helping him and also helping Sister Anne with some computer network problems, the rest of the team left for Deacon Dwight’s bringing along flood lights and extra long poles for the paint rollers. When we arrived it was cloudy and not very bright, but by 9:30 the clouds cleared and it was bright and sunny. Dwight had installed new windows and modified a wall between the living room and kitchen which greatly brightened the front of the house. We all began cutting in or rolling the walls starting in the living room and then the kitchen; some started in the other bedrooms. We finished the house by 5:00PM.

The Paint Gang

Tuesday evening dinner was great. It was followed by prayer and a discussion on what was needed for Wednesday. Concrete was promised by 1:00PM for delivery. We decided that the cement truck should deliver cement by the shoot and not have us wheel any cement. Therefore we had to set limits for the staff parking area so the truck could move along the fence and pour the cement. Also that the inside parking lot would have to be free of parked cars so that the truck could get into the play yard.

By this time we had hoped for the cedar timbers for the swing sets to be delivered and our common wisdom was to check on Wednesday and if it was not available we would go to a lumber yard and buy treated timbers for the swing sets. Wednesday morning the men worked getting the ground around the forms packed hard. Jim and Mike worked at driving the final screws into the deck boards. Joe went for the treated lumber for the swing sets. As an afterthought we included 21 bags of concrete mix for around the posts in the ground. Returning with the timbers the concrete truck was there and pouring the wet concrete over the fence into the forms. Jim in rubber boots was moving the wet concrete. We joined in helping to level the wet concrete within the forms.

Later the 21 bags of concrete mix had to be unloaded into the basement because outside the heavy dew would harden the mix in the bags. With the help of the workman in the building the bags were unloaded and then the lumber was stored on the concrete deck for the next phase of construction.

On Thursday, the men worked on the swing set patterns that they brought down with them. With the assembly of the first swing set by trial and error it was finally raised and positioned into the pre-dug holes. We then filled the holes with the concrete mix sprinkling lightly with water and covering with dirt to harden in time. We routed some of the square edges of the 4x4 posts.

Assembling a Swingset

With the second set of swings the layout and assembly went quicker and easier and the crew was able to have it in place by Thursday evening. Tony finished the final varnishing of the picnic tables. The concrete walk had been swept and had a fine finished appearance. Also a very good portion of the yard was raked up and the stones, bits of concrete and other debris were carted in plastic buckets to the commercial dumpster. In the early morning Richard and Joe went off to Home Depot to gather the remaining supplies needed to finish the work. Previously at the evening debriefing after supper the team decided that the third swing set would be constructed and in place in the morning and that all would be ready to leave by 1:00PM on Friday. Amazingly everyone helped getting the third swing set assembled, the holes dug, erected and concrete around the posts in the ground by 10:15 AM. While Richard and Joe worked at organizing the Tool Room, Richard also organized the second store room in or der that the items can now be accessed when needed. With a tour of the school, St. Joseph’s Table and the print shop we were all ready to leave by 1:15PM.

Items to be done on the next trip:

1. Use router to round over sharp edges of posts of swing sets. Some posts were done but not all.

2. In Tool Room put set of shelves for storage. 1x3x8' pine boards are in room, just buy plywood for shelves. Make an “L” shaped shelf about 6' off the floor about 12 to 15" wide.

3. Red hand truck on one wheel two bolts are missing. Please replace the bolts. I have them and will give them labeled to you.

4. Take complete inventory of items in the tool room.

View all of the photos of Trip # 7

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