Sunday, September 5, 2010

Blood, Sweat, Tears...and some Love in Between

Last weekend I had the great pleasure and satisfaction of working my sixth Habitat for Humanity house project.  It does not get all the hype and commercial support of the TV series, Extreme Makeover, and the family benefiting from the new home must put in months of sweat equity once they've been accepted following a rigorous application process.  But for them and for anyone who gives a little free time to help them reach their dream, it is worth it. 

On past projects I've been involved in constructing interior walls, doorways and headers.  I've assisted on roofing and exterior trim.  I've installed siding, bracing, and have poured cement footings for stoops, outside stairways and decks.  And least favorite of all has been tacking up insulation on a 90 degree day.  But each time I've been involved in this wonderful program, I have received much more than I have been asked to give in time and energy. 

The work is hard, and no one works harder than the deserving family.  This particular weekend it happened to be a young couple originally from Haiti.  Imagine how much they will cherish their new home since they have seen every nail, board, shingle, window and each drop of paint that went into its making.   

The work site manager was a young man from a family I grew up with.  I played baseball and basketball with his older brothers.  He was once a Habitat applicant, and now owns a Habitat house two blocks from where we were working.  He learned so much helping to build his own home, and was so thankful from the experience, that he continued to volunteer, and eventually developed enough skill that he is now a full-time employee of Habitat for Humanity. 

I am a firm believer that it is better to give than to receive.  And for those people in this world who need to receive before they are in a position to give in return this organization teaches the lessons of this concept better than any other I have seen.  Habitat emphasizes that this is not a hand out, rather it is a hand up.   

Those of us who worked on this house did not give up a Saturday, we gained the experience of giving, sharing and learning.  It is both humbling and rewarding at the same time. What could be better? 


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