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Sunday, November 14, 2010
Thankful To Serve
But those of us with a roof over our heads are so blessed. There are so many who do not. During my time of volunteering with the Homeless Shelter, I saw many sad little children's faces, and the look of desperation on the faces of their parents. There is much talk and judgment cast upon homeless people, and I, too, have an opinion on the matter, but the bottom line is, it is a terrible way to live.
We've probably all watched the show Extreme Makeover Home Addition. It's one of my favorite shows, but due to my work schedule, I rarely see it any more. Most of the time, I think they go way over the top with these homes, with an emphasis on extravagance. Sure, it's great to give so much to the deserving families, but I wonder if they ramped it down a little bit if they could help out another family or two along the way. Of course it's just a tv show, and they are just as interested in ratings as they are helping families, so the more, the bigger, the better I suppose. I like watching the demolition of the homes. The big wrecking ball, the tractors, the high school football team.... usually some theme-related demolition, based on the individual family.
Yesterday I kept looking over my shoulder, waiting for Ty, Paulie, Paige and Michael to come driving up with their hardhats and microphones. I even had a spot on my shirt picked out for them to pin a mic on me, and was pleased that I was having a good hair day for the camera. But alas... No Extreme Home Makeover crew showed up at our work site. Soon I was hot and sweaty, my good hair day ruined by drywall dust, and the fresh, perky, morning energy was soon expended. Eyes assaulted by flying debris, and nose only moderately protected (with a little mask) from musty odors and black mold spores. The demolition had begun in earnest.
St. Mary's partners with the Athens Habitat for Humanity, and earlier this year gave employees the opportunity to volunteer with a project over on the east side of town. With the summers so stifling hot, I decided to choose a date in late fall in order to avoid working in the heat. Yesterday was an absolutely perfect autumn day, with a brilliant blue sky and dappled spots of sunlight peeking through the trees. Sandra, MaryAnn, Steve and I worked with several other St. Mary's folks doing demolition inside the apartments. No wrecking balls, tractors, or high school football teams to help. Just a rag-tag band of (mostly) middle-aged folks with hammers and crowbars. It was FABULOUS! My line of work doesn't lend the opportunity for physical labor, and I'm really not that into hard labor jobs around the house either. To say it felt good to pound away some frustrations with that hammer would be an understatement. Flailing the crap out of the wall, a few Kung Fu kicks to smash holes in the wall, yanking and pulling down those hunks of sheetrock... yes it was quite therapeutic.
The Habitat folks are doing a really nice job with these apartments. The lady explained to me how it would all work out in the end, i.e. the process of families getting into the homes, the criteria used to determine eligibility, and a few other details, but the drywall dust was too thick in my head for the information to stick, and I honestly don't remember what she said. It all sounded really good, though. There is one unit on site that is move-in ready, and it was amazing to go inside and get a visual of how the other empty apartments would look once the project is complete. (I my ownself was especially grateful for this "model" apartment, because there was a working potty inside!!)
I'm trying to recall how many units there are. I think there are 16 total units. This means that upon completion, 16 families will enjoy living in nice homes, at a fraction of the cost. I'm not going to get into the politics of what is right, and what is fair. I will only hope that the 16 families who benefit from this program are truly deserving, and that having this opportunity will give them the help they need to be productive members of society. And perhaps someday they, too, will be given the opportunity to pay it forward, and lend a hand to someone else, in return for the blessings they have received.
If you are ever given the opportunity to work with HFH, I urge you to take it. You will make a difference in the lives of people you will probably never meet. My body aches this morning, from my toes to the top of my head. I hurt in places I forgot existed. Yet with every step, every movement, every twinge of pain, I am reminded of how fortunate I am to have a home.
Yes, 16 families will ultimately reap the benefits of the long, hard hours of labor from many people who have volunteered their time and talents over a period of months. The blessings won't stop there, though, because the hearts of the volunteers have been touched as well, and we all walk away with a sense of gratitude for our own blessings, and the opportunity to effect a change by blessing someone else.