This piece, by Ignatian Volunteer Julie Dodd, is a reflection on the spiritual readings and guide being used by IVC volunteers across the country.
Her beautiful, joyous smile caught my eye and I knew she had to belong to one of the families partnering with Habitat for Humanity Omaha’s Builder’s Blitz, an ambitious project to transform a neighborhood in one week.
Habitat dreams big and during the 2013 blitz, nine homes were built or renovated in one week. It’s a collaborative effort involving many subcontractors and tradesmen as well as hundreds of volunteers. Normally, new construction takes 2 months from start to finish and there are never that many builds in progress at one time.
Before construction began, the neighborhood was blighted by vacant lots and abandoned houses. Homes that could be salvaged were renovated; others were torn down and modest new structures put up in their place. There was a friendly spirit of competition between the builders, but if a crew fell behind schedule, everyone worked together to make sure deadlines were met.
Smiling faces were all around, and as I visited with some of the contractors, volunteers and family members, I was moved to tears more than once. It was so obvious God was all around us. “The Power at work within us is able to accomplish far more than we can ask or imagine.” Ephesians 3:20.
The girl with the lovely smile told me she has twin boys, works full time and is a full time student while another young mother said she and her children were living in a rental property with mold problems which exacerbated her daughter’s asthma. Included in those nine families are 25 children. Many of the families involved were living in crowded conditions, either in small apartments or sharing a space with family members.
Professional builders sponsor each house and a crew leader ensures everything is soundly built and up to code. By the end of the week, connections are formed, and it’s easy to see how fond the builders become of the families and the feeling is mutual. Returning contractors asked for updates on families they met on previous builds.
More than the neighborhood was transformed that week. The entire community was strengthened by offering deserving families a chance to provide stability for their children and room to grow and learn and put down roots.
As Father Greg would say, we were in God’s jurisdiction.
Julie Dodd is an Ignatian Volunteer who works in public relations for Habitat for Humanity Omaha. She and her husband, a retired Naval officer who is now a government civilian worker, have two grown children. In their free time, they consider themselves caretakers of a little piece of paradise overlooking the Missouri River.