As mentioned on the Extreme Community Makeover website; we pick a theme each year based on the ECM mission. This year’s theme is “Get Your Hands Dirty.” The foundation of our work at ECM is to partner with volunteers and residents of underserved neighborhoods to help improve their homes. We get our hands dirty by cleaning up trash and graffiti from the alleys, landscaping, fence repair, painting, trimming bushes/small trees, yard work and clean-up projects. All of these efforts help our residence to regain pride of ownership in their homes, and to make a difference in our communities by “making them a better place to live”. But, getting our hands dirty isn’t just the projects we do; it also means how we get involved in our neighborhoods, communities, our cities and in each other’s lives. When you choose to get your hands dirty, might you also be inspiring others?
Every day, each one of us goes out into the world doing our thing; be that going to work, raising children, taking care of aging parents or grandparents, taking care of ourselves. Through every act we are setting an example…and we never know who is watching or paying attention. Many of the people who volunteer with ECM are definitely setting examples, but so are our residents in the Barnum neighborhood. I had the chance to listen to some stories from both our residence and our volunteers.
Melissa, a mother and volunteer with Chaparral High School boys lacrosse team joined 90 plus students and a handful of parents on this workday. This is her second year volunteering with ECM through the lacrosse team. Melissa shared that she and her husband have often hosted events at their home to support the lacrosse team be it dinner or fundraising events. She said having the boys hang out at her home fostered a trusting and open relationship with them. A relationship that a teenager might need today, especially with all the stress and expectation put upon them. She wants these boys to know she is there for them, and she supports them always. Melissa said she embraces the, “it takes a village to raise a child” kind of attitude.
Participating in ECM’s efforts has become a tradition for the Chaparral Lacrosse team and team leader Nick advised they all look forward to the event each year; returning students showing the new freshman the ropes….setting the example. As I observed this team I was impressed by their enthusiasm, their eagerness to get the job done quickly and efficiently, and mostly how they turned work into play! We could all benefit from this example. For sure, when we see our tasks, our jobs as something more than work, but rather a chance to improve something for someone else, perhaps bring a smile to someone’s face or see our work as an opportunity to commune and play with others. This group was an outstanding example of whistle/play while you work!
Resident Alma, did not see herself as a person who set an example for others let alone inspire them, but as we talked and she shared stories of her work life a pattern began to unfold. Throughout her life, Alma has held the “tough” jobs or the work that others probably would not want to do. The world that we live in can get messy, and things happen that we all wish never would. When those events happen, Alma comes into someone’s life to help clean-up; be it a tragic loss of life, or a home ravished by fire or flooded by water. Alma said she had a unique way of dealing with the scene before her…she has to, it is the only way to get the job done. She spoke of the process she goes through as she approaches her work. I could see that her easy and kind demeanor would be calming and reassuring to her clients. She acknowledged that she has received feedback about her calming energy. The ability to put another at ease during tragic times is definitely a gift. Alma said she aware of this gift and she uses it not only in her work, but to also put others that cross her path at ease. When this happens oftentimes people open up and share their lives with her. Unbeknownst to Alma, she is letting others know they matter and that they are seen. No easy task to witness another’s life, and Alma does it with natural grace, acceptance and humility; a great example of living a life that inspires others.
Our youngest volunteer, Mia realizes that she too has opportunities to set a good example for her peers at school. She told me that many times her teacher has picked her to show other students how to do something assigned in the classroom. Mia said she is a hard worker, and knows that this behavior is setting an example for other students. Mia said, she takes after her dad Kyle who is on ECM’s Video Team. Mia is an example of how it is never too early to be of service to others and how one’s actions might inspire someone else.
As always, I am moved by the people I come across during an Extreme Community Makeover Work Day. I get many opportunities throughout the ECM season to be changed by the goodness, and helpfulness of others. It is one reason why I keep returning. The residents and volunteers have all inspired me to embrace my uniqueness and to use my gifts and talents to serve others. As we show up being ourselves, and stand in our authenticity we never know how we might inspire another by doing so. Happy spring, and welcome to another fabulous year of getting our hands dirty!
~ Lisa, Extreme Teams – Communications Team