Changing the World One House at a Time - My Family Travels

You need to have twenty-five hours of service for next year! Why don’t you take part in a service trip over the summer?” My mother said. These were the words that constantly circulated my mind whenever I thought about the summer of 2010. My mother always urged me to accomplish tasks beforehand in order to avoid stress. Therefore, after a brief consultation about Habitat for Humanity, I immediately signed up. As expected, my mother was pleased with my choice.

â–º  quarter Finalist 2011 Teen Travel Writing Scholarship

Habitat for Humanity is a nonprofit, Christian organization that builds simple and affordable homes for the poor. As a volunteer, I’d be working with a group of six adults and twelve students from my high school, Notre Dame Academy, for one week in Robbins, Tennessee.

It was six A.M. on July 3rd when I realized that it was the day of departure. After I packed an ample amount of entertainment, my mother drove me to Staten Island’s King Kullen parking lot. Prior to our arrival, I focused on the sight of a minivan juxtaposition. Betwixt the minivans and suitcases were girls that I never met before in my entire life. Finally, we scattered into our designated minivans and began the journey.

Although I should’ve been thinking about my family and friends in those brief moments of departure, I thought, “What am I doing?” As we exited the minivans, the extensive group of students and I gathered around Sister Anne. She exclaimed, “We’re here! Make yourselves at home!” When I think of home, I think of my room: a room of magazine cut-outs, zebra-printed embellishments, and the scent of Katy Perry’s perfume Purr. This wasn’t home. Despite my opposition against our new “home”, I proceeded to walk through its doors in search of a satisfactory bedroom.

The house was divided into nine segments on a single floor: four bedrooms; two bathrooms; a large living room; a laundry room; and a kitchen. The best part of the building was the destination. As I viewed the beautiful landscape of scattered evergreen trees and clean-cut grass, I began to contemplate a week without stress and problems.

Looking back, I laugh at myself. If anything, Habitat for Humanity gave me stress. Everyday, my classmates and I were presented with a challenge. From painting walls to nailing down the foundation under the brutal Tennessee heat, we were always working. Overwhelmed with homesickness and labor, I wished to go home

However, these thoughts changed drastically after I had dinner with the families of the homes. Sitting at the head of the table was a family of four: a mother and three children. A family of two parents and children sat at the other end. The whole table was filled with wide smiles and dimples. Both families were so thankful for their homes. One parent even cried as a response to our hard work! Although it was their day to celebrate their new homes, the families and faculty bought a cake and decorations for a fellow student’s sixteenth birthday. Their generosity and selflessness was completely genuine. In that moment, it finally hit me: We were building a better future for these unfortunate and loving families. I couldn’t stop smiling at this thought.

From that moment on, I knew I wanted to help people. Whether it be building a home or consoling a friend, I desired to be the reason for a person’s happiness. In order to fulfill this desire, I’ve helped many people throughout this past year. Overall, Habitat for Humanity was a truly rewarding experience that I’ll never forget. It continues to influence my thoughts and actions to this day.

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