Why is it to some of the wealthy, money is more important than the welfare of other human beings? Why is it there are some who have far more than they ever will need or want and they still want more, even if it is at the cost of others? Why is greed and the lust of power so strong yet compassion and charity seem to be so weak in those they can do the most to help? Seems the ever shrinking middle class and the lower-income people have more compassion and charity in them than any other income groups. Maybe because they know how close to being homeless and hungry they are and they can relate to the suffering and needs of others better than someone who has it all.
Seems the way the world works is the working class builds the economy and pays for it while the wealthy rake in all the profits and benefits. I don’t know if I can really blame them, living in such luxury and blind to most of what goes on outside their own world. We all seem to have that bubble universe mentality in a way, just now the bubbles of the middle class, working-class and impoverished are merging together as the wealthy class bubble rolls further away. To take care of those in need is not our government’s job though we tend to want them to take care of it, it is the responsibility of every human being be they are wealthy, middle-class or even poor. We all are charged with the duty of loving our brothers and sisters and taking care of each other.
We can not change the hearts of others without having a change of heart ourselves and being an example for those whom we desire to lead towards change. In the end though no one can make change within anyone except themselves. Change is a personal choice and isn’t something that can be forced if it is to be true and lasting change.
The Women Build experience
By Seyller Robertson, Habitat for Humanity volunteer and Lowe’s employee
This past week, women across the United States helped build more than 250 homes as part of National Women Build Week, which is sponsored by Lowe’s. Seyller Robertson is a Habitat volunteer in Charlotte, N.C.
Before I became a Lowe’s employee, I volunteered a few times on Habitat for Humanity builds. I enjoyed the experience. But since I only volunteered for a few days, I didn’t get to see the full impact Habitat has on our community.
Last year, I was privileged to be a leader for my company on a Women Build home. I got Lowe’s stores excited about participating and rallied them all the way to the build. It was really neat seeing my team members build a home right beside the woman and her family who were selected to receive it. The experience had such an impact on me because I had an opportunity to really get to know the woman, her mother and her three children.
Each day that I was there, I would speak to the grandmother of the family. She would tell stories about the great neighborhood that she was able to raise her children in. All this grandmother wanted was for her child and her grandchildren to have that same memorable experience of growing up in a safe, loving home. After several stories about gardening, childhood memories and family holidays in their home, I saw the whole picture. It’s not just about donating money because it’s the right thing to do. It’s caring about your community because you want your neighbors to have that same experience of raising a family in a safe and affordable home that you had.
I’m so privileged that my eyes were open to this experience. I’m proud that my company and Habitat help create the American dream for families in our communities.
Feel free to ask
By Henry Randolph, AmeriCorps alum and Habitat Philadelphia’s volunteer coordinator
I love it when someone asks me: “What’s AmeriCorps?”
I applied to the AmeriCorps National Direct program for 2010 because I knew it would give me the chance to work with volunteers in an experiential-education setting. I was thrilled when I learned I would serve my AmeriCorps year as a construction assistant at the Habitat affiliate in Philadelphia, a city whose considerable housing issues are matched by its cultural vibrancy.
Construction work was an entirely new world for me, but I immediately found kindred spirits in the other AmeriCorps members at our affiliate. And I didn’t mind the small living stipend because I quickly earned a number of other things:
Flexibility. Working as a construction assistant meant preparing for the day’s projects on short notice and changing plans from minute to minute, all while working hard to give multiple volunteer crews a good experience. Part construction worker and part affordable-housing advocate, part teacher and part student — I learned to do it all.
Humility. I had to teach myself to accept the “Homer Simpson moments” when I slammed my thumb with a hammer or found my gloves and hardhat cloaked in spray-foam insulation, which invariably happened while teaching an eager volunteer how the “experts” do it. It’s trial by fire and a reminder that our work is about much more than immediate perfection.
A greater understanding of what it means to give of yourself. Many AmeriCorps members from this affiliate have gone on to use their skills and experiences at sustainable building companies and social justice organizations. My service actually led me to become Habitat Philadelphia’s new volunteer coordinator. Although I’m not on site swinging hammers any more, my work still centers on volunteers, and I realize how unique Habitat is in the realm of builders.
I love it when someone asks me about AmeriCorps. I tell them about being stretched and challenged, about dirt and noise and roughed-up hands. I tell them it’s a big commitment, a big payoff for everyone involved — and an experience I love sharing any chance I get.
Homeowner Deneen Price shares what she has learned from her experiences with Tacoma/Pierce County Habitat for Humanity.
By Mica Barry, RV Care-A-Vanner volunteer
“Alan!” Judy shouted. “I know what I want for Christmas. A palm nailer!”
Judy is a retired nurse who can hang siding with meticulous precision. She can also bake a cherry jubilee cheesecake in her RV and did so for our Super Bowl party. Judy and her husband Alan, along with my husband Barry and I, are part of the “Reunion Builders” — 10 couples and a few singles from nine different states who traveled in RVs to Louisiana after Hurricane Katrina to help rebuild.
Like all Habitat volunteers, we volunteer for different reasons: to give back, to do God’s work, for fellowship, or to learn about another part of the country. After working together in Louisiana in 2006, we decided we wanted to keep building together; we just completed our sixth build. Our goal each year is to work together for five weeks and try to finish a home.
RV Care-A-Vanners set up their RVs in the driveways of homes under construction or anywhere the group can be reasonably close to the work site. We have evening pot lucks and spend time together discovering a new community. We are a diverse group, and we don’t agree on all things, for sure, but as we work to create a home with a new Habitat family, our differences become insignificant.
And we bring different skills to the work site. Some of us like to paint; others hate it. Many of us are uncomfortable on the roof, but there is always work on the ground. Before my first build in 2003, I worried that I wasn’t skilled enough to contribute to building a home. Nothing could be further from the truth. There is enough work at many different levels for each volunteer, and there is always an opportunity to learn something new, like how to use a chop saw. Maybe I will ask for one for Christmas this year.
Twenty-six travel hours, experience for a lifetime
By Jasmine Porter
Collegiate Challenge participant and Gustavus Adolphus College sophomore
Throughout high school, I always hoped to participate in a Habitat for Humanity opportunity. My chance finally presented itself last year, my first year in college, with a spring break trip offered in late March at Gustavus. At the start of the trip, I only knew one girl — a friend I signed up with — but by the end of the trip, I had created close friendships with everyone.
We took two separate 15-passenger vans from St. Peter, Minn., down to Laredo, Texas. The drive was long and uncomfortable. Twenty-six hours really allowed us to get to know one another. Once there, we helped to build the framework of two different houses, as well as put the siding up for one. Since that experience, feelings of gratitude, accomplishment and excitement for my next trip have remained with me.
Next week, I’m traveling to Bluffton, S.C., as a team leader. We have approximately 30 volunteers, and we will be working on the construction of houses, similar to the Laredo trip last year. Many of the students on my team are excited and thankful for the opportunity this work trip allows us because it satisfies our desire to travel and our enthusiasm to learn and experience something outside of our comfort zone.
I choose to participate in the Habitat trips because of the unforgettable life experiences, the sense of pride and accomplishment that is instilled in everyone at the end of the week, and because of the friendships we develop.
nvesting in success
By Neale Kempe, Habitat for Humanity Cambodia volunteer.
There is an allure about Cambodia that is difficult to articulate. This country, more than most, has suffered the ravages of war. But rather than dwelling on all that was — and is — broken, this “smiling” country has moved on and is embracing change and challenge with vigor and optimism. My experience building with Habitat in Cambodia has been perhaps the most rewarding of my life.
Having led four teams to Cambodia over the past three years, including working as a house leader during the 2009 Jimmy & Rosalynn Carter Work Project, I have been nothing but impressed with the organizational ability of the local program, the warm and wonderful staff and skilled workers, and the partner families who are so appreciative of our work.
As a country, Cambodia faces a number of unique challenges. Cambodia’s population is dramatically on the rise, with some 40 percent of the current population under the age of 16. The challenge in Cambodia is not only to build houses, but also to address infrastructure that will accommodate the needs of the burgeoning population. After visiting a school in the community of Oudong, I became aware of this lack of infrastructure. We found only one serviceable toilet to accommodate more than 500 children. Our team immediately set about to repair two other toilets and have plans in mind for 2011 to build more to better serve the needs of this growing school.
I am very excited about continuing my work with Habitat Cambodia and am currently planning to provide financial support and expertise to a planned blitz build in 2011. Habitat Cambodia is doing marvelous work in this part of the world and is truly reaching a population in desperate need. I feel proud to be a part of that process and feel that a part of me is invested in the success of the families we have served.