April 10, 2012 -- Portland Fire & Rescue’s Assistant Fire Marshal Doug Jones didn’t spend his spring break sleeping in or taking a family trip to Disneyland.
Instead, for the third year in a row, Jones traveled with a church-based group down to Mexico to build homes for disadvantaged families. The team of 20 adults and 54 teenagers on spring break, began their trek here in Oregon, driving in a caravan with trucks and trailers filled with building materials, tools, supplies, tents and other living essentials across the Mexican border to the north-central state of San Luis, Sonoro.
Jones is a member of “Mission-4-Mexico,” a faith-based youth centered outreach group with the goal of building homes and working on other projects in the under-served communities within Mexico.
When Jones and the group arrived in San Luis, they set up tent camp and then visited the two sites where they would be constructing homes. The team was then able to spend time with the families they were building for. An advance team poured 16’ x 20’ concrete slabs at the home sites prior to their arrival.
Over the course of the next three days, the group framed and insulated walls and roofs, installed windows, ran wires for future electricity, hung, muded and tapped sheetrock and then painted inside and out. No electricity or running water was available at the sites so generators were utilized to power skill saws.
Each new home also got a new banos (outhouse) built over a freshly dug hole in the sand. When the homes were completed, the families gathered with the work trip participants and a local pastor for the house blessing.
According to Jones, the most humbling part of the hard work and dedication is seeing the reaction of the family when the home is finished and presented to them.
“A memory you will never forget is just having finished a new home for a family and getting to hand over the keys,” he said. “You just can't forget the moment of giving a home to someone who before had lived in a pallet and plywood lean-to with a dirt floor.”
Jones also commented on the youth that make this trip, “It’s amazing to watch the youth on this trip seemingly mature before your eyes as they see and experience living conditions most have only heard about. This trip makes a lasting impression on them”.