Like all of the Concordia Habitat for Humanity trips that are at various locations during Spring Break, the Houston group came ready to crush it at the build site. They wanted to dig in, get their hands dirty and cross as much off the to-do list as possible.
After destroying the site’s prepared workload, the frequency of new assignments slowed down significantly. It left many students cleaning in or around the 13 houses at the site, sweeping sidewalks, scraping mud off of floors, vacuuming sheet rock dust and scratching stubborn stickers off of windows. The get-it-done spirit slowed down just a bit too and many expressed concerns about not feeling useful. Through all of it, 20 positive attitudes remained.
But they wanted more work – and lots of it.
When the students found out that the group was asked to relocate to work at the Habitat ReStore, they envisioned hours of cleaning but hoped to be plugged in to more work. Some were skeptical and it left the student leaders stressed about making the right decision. They wanted everyone to remain happy on the trip.
With the option of splitting the group between the build site and the Restore, the students came to decision time. They gathered in a team meeting and talked it out. No one seemed shy sharing their opinions and while many people still hadn’t had a chance to swing a hammer or run a power tool, most of the students expressed similar thoughts.
“If we’re here to work, I think we should go where we’re needed,” said Chad Ingulsrud, one of the students on the trip.
The group nodded in agreement and prepared to spend their final two work days at the ReStore, together.
On Wednesday morning, the Cobbers piled in to the ReStore and the managers granted their wish for heavy lifting and plenty of work. In no time, the students had moved a mountain of reclaimed redwood flooring material, something the fire marshal said needed to be organized or thrown out. It’s a big money maker for the store, and throwing it out would have been like throwing money in the garbage. Seeing 20 eager people walk through the door that morning was a blessing they never saw coming.
As the group finished projects, they requested more…and then more. The managers didn’t have trouble finding more things to do, but sometimes had trouble keeping up with the students’ demands for more tasks.
At the end of the day, older items had been removed from the selling floor with fresh merchandise in their place. Getting items from the warehouse and making them available for sale will help the store make money for Habitat even faster.
The students’ positive attitudes carried through from the build site to the ReStore. Though they didn’t know quite what to expect, they gained more than they could have imagined. They loved the hard work, they loved the people and in the end, they loved the unexpected change in plans.
As the students drove away on the bus at the end of the work day, one of the trip leaders got a phone call from the Habitat contact.
“Karly, that’s wonderful!” LaCresia King yelled through the bus, her cell phone to her ear.
LaCresia had everyone’s attention.
A potential donor had walked through the Habitat build site that day, while the students worked at the ReStore. That particular donor had given money in the past, but not recently. The person said they were so impressed with the cleanliness and organization of the build site that they wanted to make a donation – double what they gave last time.
“They’re giving $60,000 to Habitat!” LaCrecia yelled, with a smile bigger than the state of Texas.
Many of the students burst into cheers; while some were so shocked they could barely speak.
Later that night during reflection time, the students expressed gratitude for following the right path. They helped the ReStore and couldn’t wait to go back the next day. Their patience and hard work helped the Habitat chapter score a major donation.
“It’s satisfying to know that the $60,000 is basically able to build an entire house for one family – it’s pretty cool,” said Matthew Schmidt, one of the seniors on the trip.
Through out the evening, you could hear echos of “everything happens for a reason,” “God is good” and “this is the best week…ever.” The students later found out that they were moved to the ReStore because of their incredible work ethic and their desire to make a big difference.
Sometimes going with the flow can be difficult and uncomfortable, but it pays off – in more ways than one. Want to put a price on the joy experienced today?