How to Make an Impact

Do what you can, when you can

Me at the site

You pick up the next trash bag and start carrying it down the street, sweat dripping off of your face and down your back. The sun starts shining right on you, just making the work even hotter than before. Saw dust is flying, dirt is being brought up from the earth, and hammers are hitting the nails in the wood. You look at all of the rainbow colored houses and feel a sense of accomplishment, of helping in a way you never had before.

Today is July 25, 2017. The Freshman College Summer Experience is coming to a close. We are in our last week of classes and next week we have finals, then moving day. You could say we are under a bit of stress.

The painting crew

At first, I was uncertain of what to expect when my friend drove me up to the houses we would be helping with. When we stepped out of the car, we were immediately greeted by the project leader, Doug. He went right into what we were going to be doing and why we were doing it.

The trench

We were building these houses to get families into them that really needed a stable, yet affordable place to live. Doug gave us the example of a single mother. If she had a minimum wage income and was trying to raise a baby, it would be hard to make ends meet. This mom would really need a place to stay that would bring down her rent to a reasonable price that is specifically made for her. The money she would be saving could go towards the child in the form of a birthday present or even just extra food. To have a place to live that wasn’t too expensive would relieve this mother of a lot of stress.

The painting crew

Then Doug put us straight to work. He put us in groups and sent us off to work on different projects. The goal was to get as much done as we could in the limited time we were there.

On the first day, we managed to stain a porch, start digging a trench, mow and weed-eat the grass, and make some new friends.

The second day, we painted the eaves, kept cleaning up the yards, continued digging the trench, fixed the roof of one house and started building a porch for another.

Most of the Habitat site

The third and final day, the trench was still being dug, the ceiling of one of the houses was being fixed, concrete was being broken up and moved, and the cleaning process had been started.

This is the day we were moving trash from one end of the houses to the other. Eventually, we came up with a better system, with Caleb, one of the men that worked on the site. He pulled up his truck and we loaded the trash. He then drove to the dumpster and we unloaded it.

While this does sound like a pretty simple job, it surprisingly wasn’t. The sun had decided to come out and shine and some of the bags were so heavy that they took two people to lift.

However, I loved it. I loved that we were getting to work with these guys that did this everyday to help people they didn’t even know. I loved that the people that would be moving into these houses didn’t know that a group of freshmen from UGA had been working there. I loved the fact that we were getting the chance to help. The men that work on the houses have a long to-do list and if we could help them in any way, well it was definitely worth the sweat and the dirty clothes.

I loved meeting the people that worked on this site. Doug, the leader, liked to say that cussing at things made them work better and he liked to joke around with everyone. Caleb, the one I worked with the most, had a touching story as to why he ended up working there and why he stayed even after he could’ve left. Phil and Miro, were two guys from Germany that came over for a year to help Habitat for Humanity. Some of the other people, I didn’t get to spend much time with, but they were all so kind and giving. We all came to know each other, even if only in small ways, and we made an impact on somebodies life even if they never know it.

Habitat for Humanity put a lot of things in perspective. It gave me a chance to think about what I want to do for humanity and how I want to make my own impact. I hope to graduate from the University of Georgia in four years with a degree in Psychology. From there, I would like to go on to a graduate program and eventually receive my PhD. During this time, I would like to travel and help where and when I can. The two boys from Germany really influenced me. The fact that they were willing to give up a full year of their lives to come work at a foreign place for people they will never meet is amazing to me. I hope that I can be selfless enough to do something like that.

Eventually, I would like to work with a company that reaches out to people in need and makes their lives better. At the moment, I would like to work with the Malala Fund. It is a nonprofit organization that helps children to get the education that they need.

Our group on the last day

Freshman College has given me the chance to grow in a way I never have before. I am incredibly thankful for the opportunity to do this and help make the world a better place. These four weeks will stay with me forever.