Murfreesboro has grown tremendously lately in size and sophistication. We now have a variety of opportunities to hear quality music, see good theater and stimulate our minds with thought-provoking presentations in a variety of different venues. One thing that has not changed is our culture of caring. I recently had the privilege of working on a Habitat for Humanity project, specifically the Sevier Street project at which time I saw Murfreesboro at her best.
On that warm Saturday morning in June I walked up to a young woman handing out registration forms to what looked like chaos. There were lots people milling around all wondering just what we were supposed to do. A gentleman with an air of authority and the tell-tale tool belt around his waist walked over, got our attention and began to list all of the things that we were going to accomplish that day. My thought was that he had much more confidence in me and this unlikely looking crew than I did, but, within a few minutes, each of us found a job that we could either do or learn quickly. We all began to build.
I was there with members of my church. As a spiritual family we were looking for ways to get more involved in our community.
Rutherford County Habitat gladly accepted our offer. We were assigned a particular Saturday and simply told to show up.
We did and I was amazed at how we each were able to find a task that contributed to the project as a whole. I found myself on a ladder pounding pieces of wood together to keep the insulation from falling out. I told one of the women with us to make sure she took a picture of me doing it because I didn’t think my husband would believe me. There were people involved at all levels of the building process. Some hung sheets of insulation. Some put in the doors and windows. Others held ladders steady. Still more picked up the loose nails that were dropped on the ground along the way. No matter what the task, we all felt that we were making a difference. We could feel the spirit of community and camaraderie and felt good because we were part of something that would make a real difference in someone else’s life.
According to their website, Habitat for Humanity was founded in 1976 by Millard Fuller. It states that “Habitat for Humanity International is a nonprofit, ecumenical Christian housing ministry. HFHI seeks to eliminate poverty housing and homelessness from the world, and to make decent shelter a matter of conscience and action.” I heard Mr. Fuller speak at a conference a few years ago and say we could stamp out poverty if every one had their own home. So, together with Biblical scholar and farmer Clarence Jordan, the Fullers stepped out and began to build houses. As with any worthy endeavor, people noticed and wanted to be part of what they started. Their simple idea took hold and today families live in Habitat houses all over the world.
And it works. Laura Bohling, our contact person for coordinating volunteers in Rutherford County stated, “The community where Habitat began has no poverty housing. It can happen with some concerted effort.”
Habitat has been active in Rutherford County since 1989. During that time the organization has provided 60 homes for families in need. In May of 2006, Rutherford County Habitat for Humanity undertook the ambitious Sevier Street project. Their plan is to build seven homes on Sevier Street by October 2007. With business and church sponsorship and sweat hours from folks like me, it looks like they are well on their way toward meeting their goal.
We stopped to take a well deserved drink of water and saw a group of women walk up with containers of watermelon and sack lunches for all of the volunteers on site. As we found a place in the shade to enjoy our lunch we each looked back over the house at the results of the morning’s work and saw the house coming together nail by nail. We were astonished by the amount we were able to accomplish in a short time and we knew that this new home would soon be ready to welcome its new family.