Joey Spangler sat in his house, listening to the banging, scraping and swishing from the workers outside.
The Army veteran, who once guarded the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, likes to spend his time volunteering. He lends his time to Heartly House, and once went to Washington County to help build a house as part of a team from Habitat for Humanity.
But now, Spangler’s activities are limited. When he moves around his home, a trail of oxygen piping follows him. Spangler suffers from end-stage emphysema. He was on the waitlist for a lung transplant when doctors found a tumor on his prostate. He is undergoing radiation treatment, he said.
As a result of his limited physical abilities — he has only 19 percent lung capacity — and financial strain from medical bills, Spangler’s home on Pintail Court in Frederick deteriorated.
So the former volunteer for Habitat for Humanity became someone the group helped.
Teams from Wells Fargo, UnitedHealth Group and independent volunteers arrived at Spangler’s home Wednesday morning as part of Frederick Women Build Week.
Women Build Week was an international program through Habitat for Humanity, said Bethany Miller, development and marketing director for Habitat for Humanity of Frederick County. Once the program stopped, Frederick decided to hold its own, now in its second year.
Frederick Women Build Week winds down a busy year for Habitat for Humanity of Frederick County. By the end of June, when the organization’s fiscal year ends, volunteers and staff will have completed nearly 30 projects, which run from home repairs to building new houses, Miller said.
Frederick Women Build Week is not exclusive to women, Miller said, and sure enough, there were male team leaders and volunteers working on Spangler’s home. Instead, it gives women an opportunity to learn new skills and work on a construction or home-improvement project when they might not have had the chance.
Kristin Potter has been volunteering with Habitat for about five or six years, she said. She got involved after Wells Fargo, where she works, had an event with Habitat.
On Wednesday, she helped remove tree limbs and brush, and she scraped and sanded areas around windows that needed repainting. She learned skills on the go as she volunteered with the organization, she said.
“Here, no one tells me no,” she said. “They let me learn.”
Potter said she used to fear using a ladder, but that has since gone away after working on Habitat projects.
“It’s nice to tell my husband he can back off, I know how to do it, as I learn more,” she said.
Some volunteers will come to a build and pick up skills right away, said Teresa Kline, a crew leader. Those people often turn into crew leaders themselves.
“You just look at them and say, ‘Stick by me. You’re going to be a crew leader,’” Kline said.
That’s how it worked for her. She started as a crew leader shortly after her first time with the organization. Now she helps train newcomers, some who come with previous skills, and others who do not.
“It’s a very rewarding experience to watch them gain confidence in their skills,” Kline said.
This year, Miller worked with UnitedHealth Group to get them to sponsor the women build week. They paid for materials, such as gravel and rocks, which replaced the lawn in Spangler’s backyard.
All of the volunteers from UnitedHealth Group took the day off to volunteer, said director Gwen Masser.
Masser helped wheel gravel to the front and backyards, a task she said was strenuous because the gravel was heavier than she thought it would be.
While the volunteers worked outside, Spangler went about his day, trying to schedule meetings, occasionally looking at what was being done to his house.
His daughter applied on his behalf. So far, the exterior work was approved by Habitat for Humanity. He is waiting to see if they’ll approve more interior work.
The volunteers turned the home into a place he can enjoy again. He cannot do yardwork, so his vegetation quickly overgrew.
“Simple things like mowing my backyard, I have to have people to come over and do it because I am no longer capable,” he said.
Now his lawn is made up of rocks. He can enjoy it without worrying about maintenance.
“I don’t think they really know the impact or what difference they’re making,” Spangler said.
As someone who used to volunteer, Spangler knows there are people much worse off. He felt privileged, he said. He has a roof over his head, whereas others he and Habitat have helped, do not.
But Spangler knows he needed some help, and he was grateful that Habitat volunteers were able to assist.