Spring Break Volunteerism

24 03 2010

So for this, my last spring break, I really wanted to do something significant.

I’ve been involved with Campus Crusade for Christ since my first week on campus, and usually we go on some sort of service trip for spring break. This year, though, they decided to do a four-day girls’ hang out in Austin instead. Although this sounded like a fun time, the idea of doing something the benefit others and society was still more appealing, although it seemed unlikely to happen.

Fortunately, my friend Tazia had a friend involved with Habitat for Humanity. It turns out that two people had paid their deposits and then were unable to go, so they needed to fill those spots. So, four days before we were set to leave, I decided to go on an eight-day long trip with six people I did not know.

It was one of the best time of my life.

Saturday morning of spring break we loaded into two mini vans. At the house of the former adviser, we realize he’s lost the key to his van. We search for 1 1/2 hours through his grass, bushes, house, etc. looking for the blasted key and wondering how it could have possibly fallen of the key ring. At this point, I look at the fob (electronic door opener for the van) and realize the end comes to an odd shape. I decide to try it in the van, and it turns on. We’d had the key the whole time. Awesome.

So we finally get to Alamosa, Colorado, spend some time getting acclimated to the high altitude, and start work Monday on the house.

The house we worked on was already up, missing the wiring, insulation, etc. and with skeleton walls. We helped put up concrete in the bathroom for them to tile over later, built framing for the next house to be built, insulated, painted a shed (LOTS of painting!), and built a gazebo outside a greenhouse down the street. The gazebo involved digging holes, mixing concrete, placing posts, using power drills to put wood together, etc.

This trip definitely helped me overcome my fear of power tools. I used approximately three different kinds of saws, countless power drills, and climbed about four ladders.

The house we worked on is for a young family, mom, dad, four-year-old son and two-year-old daughter. The mom came to the work site daily to deliver baked goods and talk to us while we helped work on her house. She was so grateful it was crazy, even though it felt to me that in the long run our contribution would only be a very small part of the finished product. Regardless, she treated each person working on her house like a friend, and brought us all personalized thank you cards with pictures of our team and her family. This woman will likely have hundreds of people remembering her hospitality. She welcomed us to her home with such enthusiasm, and her home wasn’t even built yet.

The eight of us on the trip really bonded. I know that happens on these types of trips, at least ideally it should, but I feel like we really all became friends.

So, getting sunburned one day and in the snow the next, we worked and played. Needless to say this was one of the best spring breaks I’ve had, and it was the perfect way to spend my last. I’ll never forget it.

I want to encourage anyone reading this to volunteer somehow. It really will be an unforgettable way to spend your time, and there is nothing in the world like the feeling of knowing someone else’s life is better because of something you’ve done. And if life ever offers you an opportunity to jump in a van with a bunch of strangers, go to a place you’ve never been, and perform some manual labor, by all means do it. Life is an adventure. Unless these people are creepers offering free candy, then please don’t go. 🙂

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Generation Y

15 09 2008

We learned in one of my classes that Generation Y, or Millennials, are very different from the generations that came before us. Millennials were pampered as kids. Now, as young adults, our parents have the tendency to try to do everything for us.

Sure, support from your parents is a good thing. But there’s a time when it can go too far.

My dad worked his way through college (without financial aid). He bought his own first car. And even though my grandparents had the means to do this for him, they didn’t. They gave him the opportunity to become his own man.

My dad didn’t get soft with me. Yes, I have financial aid (thankfully). And yes, there are times I wish daddy would swoop in and take care of something for me. But I got my GED on my own. Took the ACT on my own. Got my first job, filed my taxes, filled out my FAFSA, applied for college, got a room in the res halls, got a loan, and bought a computer on my own. Not to say my dad isn’t there for me when I need him; he is. But I’ve been given the opportunity to go explore the world and its opportunities and make the most of them on my own, which I think is a great gift.

So many people my age are timid toward the world and people around them. They need their hand held before the take a step. Sometimes kids need to have their butts smacked when they do something wrong. It makes them better people when they grow up.

So, although I can’t tell other people how to be, when I have my own children, they will be given the same gift I was: character.