Amy Parsons shares how she experienced God's presence during the Habitat for Humanity build.
One of my favorite people in history, Helen Keller, had a great quote: "Alone, we can do so little. Together, we can do so much." That was never made more clear than it was by our home build with the Interfaith Coalition and Habitat for Humanity.
Habitat for Humanity was founded in 1976 by a couple named Millard and Linda Fuller. It became much more well known, however, by the personal interest and involvement of Former President Jimmy Carter and his wife, Rosalyn. Today, Habitat is in over 70 countries and has helped change the lives of over 13 million people through affordable and safe homes. These millions of people, same as the family we worked with, are called "partners" in the Habitat journey as they literally partner alongside the volunteers and workers. "Sweat equity" hours in the hundreds are part of the investment from each person. It is truly a partnership of effort and love.
Our Trietsch family worked alongside several other faith communities to build a home for Benedict and Mary Tarmo and their five children. The other groups involved were Congregation Kol Ami, Flower Mound United Methodist Church, Creekside Christian Church, Islamic Association of Lewisville/Flower Mound, Baha'i Faith Lewisville, and First Presbyterian of Flower Mound. In a world that feels much more divided than unified, this build was a blessing to SO MANY OTHERS than just the Tarmo family. I heard volunteers say time and again how glad they were to have participated and I believe it truly reinforced how much more alike we all are than different.
In all, 224 people participated in the build and we raised $110,000. That's $10,000 over the goal for the build! Trietsch had 38 people working on Saturdays and some during the week and it was so incredibly inspiring to see people giving up their personal time to install siding, paint walls, build a frame - even put up a shed. But even more inspiring was getting to see a completely diverse group of people working together with a common goal.
We weren't divided by skin colors, genders, religious differences, or sexual orientations. I saw people helping people. I saw fellow human beings bringing each other bottled water in the hot sun. I saw new friendships being made as individuals worked in teams to pass tools and boards up ladders to one another. I saw others sitting down to talk with someone when they were overheated and needed to rest. I saw no "you and me," I simply saw "us."
On Thursday, August 9th the brand new completed house was PACKED with people of all faiths there to celebrate as the keys were presented to the excited and proud Tarmo family. Prayers were said in several different ways, but all in thanksgiving to God and speakers reinforced what we had already all seen: that when we stop allowing things to separate us, we are stronger. We can achieve and help each other much more than we can imagine.
The room was bursting with smiles, laughter, applause and maybe a few happy tears as Benedict and Mary clutched their new keys and thanked everyone involved. Everyone there was thrilled to go from room to room, enjoying the fun of a new house and taking pride in what WE had done together. It was a powerful time to witness God's children without a divide. I will never forget it.
- Amy Parsons
NOTE: I am honored to be serving as the Family Advocate for the Tarmo family. When this project began, I knew I wanted to help in some way, but have basically ZERO skills in the carpentry world. HOWEVER, the team leadership encouraged us, stating that ANYONE could help in some way and it ended up that this was a great fit for me. I serve as an adviser, an extra set of eyes in meetings. I assisted in anything they needed from insurance to paint colors. It is a year long commitment, but I have no doubt it will be many years as I have gained some wonderful new friends. I would encourage ANYONE interested in being a Family Advocate for a Habitat family to ask for more info. Contact Denton County's Habitat office - or ask me; I'll fill you in!