Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Infectious Habitat-itis

Hey y’all!

I believe everyone has a gift, a gift given to us by our Sovereign Ruler to use to serve His higher calling. Those we remember from history, good and bad, are the ones who used their gifts as men and women of honor and who always stood up for what they believed in.

My role is service, in one form or another. Since I was young, it seemed I was always able to help others in some way. When I couldn’t or wouldn’t, it weighed on me, and it made me more willing to help someone the next time I had the opportunity, even if I had second thoughts. Thankfully, my upbringing has kept those instances to a minimum.

I grew up in a family that dedicated itself to service, and that service started at home. My father, Rosie, never allowed any of his six children to expect or demand our Mom to wait on us. If he had to ask us to help her clean the kitchen, take out the trash, pick up our rooms or anything of the sort, well--let's just say it was too late at that point for an excuse!

Mother was no different. I remember the first time I mowed the grass. Mom fired up our old, gas-powered, pull-start lawn mower and handed it over to me because Dad had a long day and it would be a great surprise if he came home with no chores to do. I couldn't even see over the handle bars, and the lawn, once I finished with it, looked 10 times worse than it did before I started.

Yup, I started as a person of service at a young age. I remember the mailman threatening--only half jokingly--to turn my parents into Child Protective Services when he saw me operating a chop saw when I was 8. I don’t know what the big deal was. I was just cutting the cedar siding for the interior lining of the hall coat closet with dad's chop saw.

So as an adult, when I learned about Habitat for Humanity, a non-profit that lets me use my hands and my tools while serving others, I knew it was a perfect match for me.

Habitat for Humanity is a non-profit organization that helps deserving families build and buy homes of their own. Volunteers donate money, time and materials so the cost of building the home is as low as possible, and the family that moves into the home pitches in at least 200 hours per adult of “sweat equity.” They stand alongside the builders helping with construction, painting, yard work or anything else that needs doing. If they’re not able to do that, they work in the Habitat store—ReStore—or office.

Once they get the keys to their castle, they pay an affordable mortgage, and that money goes back into a pool that helps build the next home for the next deserving family.

I caught Habitat-itis the first time I worked on a project, and my fever for it has only gotten worse as I've spent more time around the people who believe so passionately in its mission. After I had been involved with Habitat for a number of years, it became clear I was hooked for life.

The Rosie on the House team was building our first home for what used to be known as Habitat for Humanity Valley of the Sun (now it’s Habitat for Humanity Central Arizona), and I was helping nail on the roof sheathing. I had not yet met the future homeowner, Kahn, who turned up working alongside of me, hauling sheets of OSB up to the roof rafters to nail down. The care he took to not waste a single nail by bending it--he drove them all perfectly straight--was almost like watching a father care for a precious newborn baby. On the day the home was complete, when I saw how proud Kahn was to own a home that he, his wife and his three kids could call their own, I was thoroughly infected with Habitat-itis.

One of Habitat’s mottos is: “It's a hand up, not a handout," and that’s what means the most to me. That’s what I saw in Kahn that day. He is a grateful man who worked as hard as he could to earn the help he accepted from Habitat because he knew it would enable him to provide for his family through the sweat of his brow. Who could ever ask for more?

Kahn inspired me, and I think of him whenever I’m with Habitat again, working on another home for another grateful, deserving family. When I think of Kahn, I can’t help thinking of the music of country music inspirational singer Chris LeDoux, singing one of his signature songs with Bon Jovi, Bang a Drum. The song is infectious, just like volunteering for and supporting Habitat for Humanity. And like Kahn, it’s just something I can’t get out of my mind.

Chances are, you’ll hear me humming Bang a Drum if you ever find yourself banging nails next to me on the roof of a Habitat house. And in no time at all, you’ll be as infected with Habitat-itis as I am.

If you dare to see what a difference one pair of helping hands can make, join me on a Habitat jobsite and catch Habitat-itis for yourself.

Rosie on the House

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