From Boston to Texas

Alternative Spring Break-El Paso, Texas

My first time on the other side of the Mississippi and boy was it fun…and rewarding. I don’t say this flippantly either. I went down to Texas to gain a new sense of what poverty and social need is like in other parts of the country. Working closely with the homeless community of Boston I see the hunger and the poverty and the need for assistance every day. When I was given the chance to travel to a state that is for one: nothing like the Northeast and two: in great need of people willing to help; I immediately jumped at the chance. Getting to know everyone on the trip was great, phenomenal even, but, I couldn’t have asked for a better reason to go than to witness first hand the appreciation that we saw in the eyes of the local children who live in Habitat houses. Being able to help out another family just like their’s was an entirely out-of-body experience. The life we have in Boston is far greater than the life they lead down there but what is remarkable is that the appreciation they carry in their hearts and their eyes is outstanding.

I watched Hector and little Matilda give their presentation on how their mom is disabled and was given the opportunity to own a Habitat house where the two of them could grow up safely and couldn’t help but shed more than a tear. To think even for a second that any of us have it that bad is sad.

A greater sense of self

It’s hard to believe that it’s been almost a month since we’ve been back from doing the S.O.U.L.S. Alternative Spring Break. A whole month! It feels as if I was just there yesterday watching Jake get out a bent nail from a wall we were building, that I had hammered in sideways several times. And yet at the same time everything feels very surreal, like maybe we never even went to El Paso and it was all a dream.

I think the reason why it feels that way once we’ve returned is because what we did is simultaneously one of the easiest and hardest ideas to grasp. I keep having to remind myself that we-built-a-house. A home. Where someone is going to live. What’s hard to grasp is the fact that a group of only 20 students can get so much accomplished in just one week to better our society. Who knew it could be so easy? What could get accomplished with a million more groups of 20 students? When you really think about it, you have sudden realization that every individual actually does have the ability to change the course of our society and our world. And when you become a part of that change, the feeling takes you over and makes you reassess your values and lifestyle.

After participating in two Alternative Spring Breaks already, it’s going to be hard for me to stop. The life lessons I’ve learned, friendships I’ve made, and my increased awareness of the world around me and my impact on my world make the Alternative Spring Break an experience of a lifetime, for which I am so thankful. Sure if you’ve never done an ASB before you may not be able to relate to these feelings, but I encourage everyone to put themselves out there and try it. Go even if you don’t know any of the other students, even if you should probably stay at home and work, and even if you have tons of schoolwork to catch-up on. Its worth it. And when you come back, I highly doubt you would regret it.

Ol’ El Paso

This is such a great program! I have to honestly say that I didn’t go down to El Paso to make new friends, but by the end of the week I felt so close with everyone! It is the most gratifying thing to see a group of students so intent on making a difference, even in one short week, when we are all burnt out from school and just want a vacation. We are not heroes, but I definitely have so much respect for everyone who has done this program with their spare time! I feel like we got so much accomplished, learned a lot, and grew a lot during our week for Habitat for Humanity! I am so thankful that this program exists, especially during this time when our country is experiencing a housing crunch, foreclosures, and a highly insufficient amount of quality low-income housing that has been steadily getting worse over the past few decades. It is devastating to not have a home, and so much of one’s livelihood, and as we saw, one’s family, depends on the ownership of property. We helped make that possible for a new family, and even though we don’t know who they will be, we can be sure it is going to a family in desperate need. GREAT WORK EVERYONE!!! I miss you all…