Volunteers ‘doing God’s work’ through home repair
National Women Build Week: Dickson, Tennessee
On April 30, 2011, women from as far as an hour-and-a-half away donned their work clothes and headed for a little house in the hills of Dickson County, Tennessee. The beauty of the drive outweighed the distance.
William Mayberry waited smiling in his front yard with Eric Helm, Nashville Area Habitat for Humanity’s Reconstruct Manager. William inherited the home his father built, but a heart attack left him in no condition to make necessary repairs.
His was one of four families who qualified for a grant from USDA for Critical Home Repair made available to Dickson County residents through the Dickson Division of NAHFH. The Lowe’s grant for the Women Build Week was added to fund work on the Mayberry home that would not have been done otherwise.
“If not for Habitat for Humanity, Lowe’s and USDA, I would have had to let it go,” Mayberry said. “Now I’ll be able to stay.”
He did as much as he could while continually thanking everyone. “I’m amazed at this,” he said more than once, “all these people, most of them I don’t even know, working so hard to help me.”
The ones he did know were a few women from his church who, along with their husbands, worked all day, and more brought delicious barbecue and homemade pies for lunch.
A steady breeze dried primer and paint, blew sawdust out of the way, and kept everyone cool. Laughter and chatter joined birds singing over sanding blocks, power tools and calls for judgment. One woman was a little late because her husband went turkey hunting at first daylight and she had to wait for him to get home. Two of the youngest had a prom that evening.
Beneath scaffolding, with caulk guns and paint brushes ready, two more women discussed whose fear of heights was worse, as they encouraged on another. Work never stopped for long. Girls from eighteen to past seventy traded tasks, equipment and stories while the sun rose high and settled on the other side of the sky. Some had never worked on a Habitat build. Others had to stop and count how many they had helped build.
Someone once said that people who do God’s work, do it without thinking. It’s routine. The volunteers who show up at Habitat builds, this one included, do God’s work routinely. They don’t keep count. By the end of the day, the Mayberry home looked like a different house, a better house, a home to be lived in and cared for far into the future. A fresh coat of paint, brick red for the house with white windows and gray trim, not only sealed out moisture but also gave it an English cottage flair perfect in its green country setting. The work will continue on other days, a new porch and bathroom floor, siding and trim.
Late in the day, some of the ladies accepted William’s offer of iris bulbs. “I’ve got hundreds,” he said, waving to a field next to the house where ancient irises were getting ready for a magnificent show. William was glad to give flowers his mother had planted to those who were giving so much to him. And iris bulbs dug by excited gardeners will bloom every year in the yard of one of God’s volunteers, along with memories of where they came from and why.
Marsha Hudgens is the Family Services Director, Dickson Division, for the Nashville Area Habitat for Humanity. Learn more about Nashville Area Habitat’s work at http://www.habitatnashville.org.