I built a house this past weekend. In two days.
You read that correctly. Two days.
My wife, my youngest daughter and I, and a team of 18 others - from Texas, Colorado and Hawaii - traveled to Tijuana, Mexico, to build a home for a family that did not have one. We worked with an amazing organization called Homes of Hope, which has built nearly 6,000 homes for the poorest of the poor in third world countries around the world.
Together, our team erected a 20’ x 20’, two-bedroom home, complete with electricity and indoor plumbing, all in two days.
Two days. A lifetime of transformation.
This is the fourth year my family has participated in a build. Each one has been unique. All have been amazing.
Part of what makes this experience so special is our interaction with the family we build for. They build right alongside our team, every step of the way. And they are so grateful when the keys to the home are handed to them.
The other part that makes this experience so special is what happens with the team. They are made of people we know and others we don’t. Men in their 60’s, 15-year-old girls, and many in-between. There we sweat, side by side, with each person playing their part in this labor symphony… some framing, some roofing, some wiring, some painting (the house and themselves). All are united, and focused on a common mission: to give a gift to complete strangers in desperate need. By the end of the two days, we have built a home, and more importantly, relationships. We have all become linked in heart with the family, and with each other. Both make us better. It is a beautiful thing to behold.
It is the perfect visual metaphor for what we do at One Heart.
To provide a second chance for youth in the juvenile justice system takes many people, each filling a role in the life of a stranger who is in desperate need. Some working on the frame, others the roof, others the insulation, yet others the power. All helping to build a new life, and building relationships that will forever change them… and us.
In Mexico, we walked onto a concrete slab at 8:30 on Friday morning, with a vision in our minds of what would be there less than 36 hours later.
In each boy or girl we encounter in prison at One Heart, we also see what can be when a small foundation is enveloped with a group of people expressing a little love and persistence.
With these kids, we often use the analogy of building a home, stating that no one would ever send a builder out with just a hammer and expect a home to appear. So it is with each one of the boys and girls we serve at One Heart. It’s essentially malpractice to give them one tool and expect them to navigate life successfully.
On the home build, we used hammers and screwdrivers. Nail guns and staple guns. Skill saws and circular saws. Tape measures and levels. Scaffolding and ladders. Paint brushes and rollers (lots of paint brushes). And much more. Without all of them, we would never have been able to build a home that would stand.
Similarly, it’s imperative that these kids have the opportunity to access every tool they need to build a life that will endure.
None of our team members were skilled builders. Well, actually, we did have a couple of pros on our team. But the rest of us? All pretty low on the construction skills chart. Yet we did it.
So it is with the kids we serve at One Heart. You don’t need to be skilled at youth-building to be a success here. Like our team this past weekend, you just need to have a caring and willing heart.
We had 20 on our build team and we needed more.
The One Heart has many great people, but we need more.
We need you.
And, you don’t know this yet, but you need us.
We were made to give of ourselves to others. It is by far the most fulfilling thing we ever do. When we marry, we give of ourselves. In raising children, we give of ourselves. Nothing fills our purpose tank more than giving of ourselves to the benefit of others.
To fill your purpose tank, you can help build a new home for a family in need, like we did. I strongly encourage you to do so.
You can also help build a new life for a young person in need in prison. I cannot think of anything you can do that will be more impactful.
You will change a life.