A Love for the Dirt

A freshman in college falls in love with rainbow colored homes

Painting the first set of boards in the stifling sun

The first time I fell in love with the work we did at Habitat for Humanity was the second time we ever visited the site. On our first visit as a class, I was confined to scrubbing paint off of the tile, sweeping dirt, and buffering the floors. I was shocked at the amount of labor in which they allowed us to partake. I had never used a buffing machine and thought it was fun to pretend as if I were a construction worker.

However, this type of labor did not affect me personally at this point. I was hot throughout the shift and was ready to be in the air conditioning once again. On the other hand, during the second visit I was put into the painting group with a few fellow classmates. The heat was sweltering and I was sweating profusely, but I fought through the summer intensity to try and finish my work. After painting the first set of boards, many of us sat down to take a break. We drank water and wiped the dripping sweat from our foreheads as my Habitat for Humanity leader for the day, Caleb, began to tell us the sad yet inspiring story about his struggles throughout his childhood.

Caleb grew up in a very poor household with an alcohol and drug addicted mother and without any fatherly influence due to the fact that he left the family at a young age. Caleb was constantly struggling in all aspects of his life and had to learn to mature at a young age. When he reached the age of a young teenager, he began to volunteer at a Goodwill and started to interact with adults who were set on helping Caleb further his future.

Making memories with Caleb

After volunteering at Goodwill for quite some time, he was offered a job within the company and worked diligently as a cashier, stocker, and collector of donations. Because of his work with Goodwill, Caleb was connected to many community members and organizations. Eventually, Goodwill helped Caleb become involved with the Habitat for Humanity organization, and he played a very active role in the service project. He then started working full time with Habitat for Humanity and became extremely passionate about his work in Athens.

Recently, Caleb was awarded for his great service in the district. He was very proud of his accomplishments, and I was glad that on a blazing hot day, he was open to telling his story that ultimately helped me fall in love with the service in which we were given the opportunity to participate.

Caleb’s story taught me a valuable lesson that I will take with me for the rest of my life. Although Caleb himself was in need of financial assistance, he was still open to helping others who were more desperate than he was. Instead of complaining and getting himself into constant trouble, he was able to push aside his difficulties and be a friend to the people who truly had nothing. If I ever find myself in a situation where I am in desperate need, I will recall Caleb’s story and strive to be the person he showed us was possible to be.

We have to do what we can to help wherever and whenever it is possible for us to help. -Jackie Chan
Painting on our final day on the site

Because of the encouraging account that was the reality of Caleb’s life, I was able to take into perspective the impact our work had on the people the Habitat for Humanity workers assisted. During the first service project, I thought of the houses as nothing but a shelter. However, after Caleb’s story, I thought of the houses as someone’s new home: where he or she could build a family and a new life altogether. The work Habitat for Humanity does on a daily basis helps reshape a community and the lives of many, and after the second week working on the site, I was proud to be apart of something so impactful.

In the future, I desire to be as influential as the workers of Habitat for Humanity are. Where do I want to be? I hope to be a surgeon in a large trauma hospital. As a surgeon I will be able to mean the difference between life and death as patients will depend on my skills. I will additionally be able to conduct research, become a humanitarian, and work to increase life expectancy of my patients. Overall, I want to have a deep passion for learning as I will be in a constant state of helping others in creative ways.

As a doctor I wish to not only help in the hospital but also in the community. Many times doctors are so wrapped up in their career that they are not present in the town in which they live. However, I strive to be the doctor that is active in charities. For instance, I can go on mission trips with Doctors without Borders where I can provide care to disaster victims or train medical staff in developing nations. I can also give back to the community through donations or volunteering locally in areas that may need aid. In general, I wish to assist the community in any shape or form.

Ever since my outlook on our service learning changed, I became more dedicated to my work despite the heat and magnitude of the tasks we engaged in weekly. I told others about Habitat for Humanity and how immensely it positively impacts the lives of those in need. I fell in love with the service project overall and am determined to become more involved at 118 Magnolia Terrace throughout my years here at the University of Georgia.

Our final goodbye

Work Cited

Sadiq, Basil. “Inspire Your Volunteers With These 18 Amazing Quotes.” Engaging Volunteers. Engaging Volunteers, 14 Apr. 2016. Web. 24 July 2017.