Back in 1988, as we were launching Habitat for Humanity in Lynchburg, Virginia, I met a builder who was eager to help.  In fact, on our very first build day on December 1, he was there with some of his crew helping to build Stella Culpepper’s home.  Tom Gerdy is his name.

As Habitat’s ministry grew in Lynchburg, so did Tom’s involvement.  There was the “Two Houses in 57 Hours” project sponsored by the local Home Builders Association.  Tom led one of the houses building around the clock.  Then there was Leap Day 1996, where we thought, “Wow, an extra day, let’s build an extra house.”  Tom led that project and completed the house in 16 hours.  Then there was a local gentleman who wanted to fully sponsor a house in celebration of his 80th birthday.  We decided to build the entire house on his birthday, July 24, this time in 11 hours.  House leader?  Who else?  Tom Gerdy.

In 1998, Tom and I decided to organize a group to travel to Americus, Georgia, headquarters of Habitat for Humanity to build a house in a week as part of the Easter Morning Build.  Thus began the journey of what has come to be called the “Road Trip Crazies,” a group primarily from Lynchburg (joined now by many who have caught the feeling) that travels regionally to build Habitat houses 2-3 times per year.

The Road Trip Crazies are descending upon Wake County this weekend for our “Framing Frenzy” event in Zebulon to frame up 4 new homes and fully complete the exterior on two.  55 people are coming for this build.  Tom is a skilled carpenter and one of the best I have seen at involving many unskilled volunteers, building at a rapid pace, and ensuring quality…all while treating the volunteers to a rewarding and memorable experience.

In December 2000, Tom and I joined our Lynchburg native and Hollywood resident Randy Wallace for Randy’s “Hollywood for Habitat” project in Los Angeles.   Randy is the screenwriter of the movie Braveheart and other well known screenplays.  When Tom was not helping Bo Derek with her framing skills or bantering back and forth with Robin Williams he led one of the 20 houses that week.

On December 29-31, 1999, I joined Tom in Hilton Head, SC for a Habitat build in conjunction with the annual New Year’s Renaissance weekend gathering of some of the country’s most influential leaders.  On this build Tom met and worked with political columnist, Arianna Huffington.  Since then, Tom has been contributor on the Huffington Post, writing blog entries from time to time.  I think you will see a theme in his writing that basically is, “Let’s stop talking and DO SOMETHING.”  Take a look at Tom’s musings on Huffington Post.

Described as a cross between “Mother Teresa and Jimmy Buffett”, we are excited to host the Road Trip Crazies in Zebulon this weekend.  Our prayer is for a safe and productive weekend, one in which many new volunteers “catch the feeling” that you get more returned to you by living a giving life.  As Randy Wallace so beautifully said, “Habitat for Humanity is a perpetual miracle; everyone who receives, gives; and everyone who gives, receives.  If you want to live complacent and uninspired, stay away from Habitat; come close to Habitat and it will change you, and make you part of something that changes the world.”