My volunteer work in Mississippi actively accomplished building houses and helping people take their next big step in their lives. Specifically, I participated in the building of several houses and helped one woman (and her dog) move into her new home. So I was able to see the beginning and the end of the home building process. Seeing a home actually come to fruition and then spending time helping a person make it their own felt like an extraordinary accomplishment, even though my own work was with a several other projects on several other houses.
I also cleaned out dirt and debris from a variety of places and worked daily to stock and restock the supply hut with canned goods and other non-perishables. Even working in the supply hut was not a simple matter of just placing canned goods on a shelf. It required systematically arranging items and carefully, consciously planning and budgeting for what was needed. There was a meticulous attention to detail, and a great need to be cost efficient because there was absolutely no money to waste.
In addition to the manual work, I comforted and consoled Katrina’s survivors and provided a proverbial shoulder to cry on, at least someone to talk to.
My volunteer efforts, such as with Habitat for Humanity, also helped to accomplish the building of a home for families who not only needed the house, but were also willing to give of themselves to build the house. My fundraising efforts have raised money that has been used to stock soup kitchens and food pantries, as well as supplying meals to people who might otherwise not have something to eat.
In Mississippi, the people who benefited directly from this volunteer effort included survivors of Hurricane Katrina. I worked very directly with several of these survivors, and indirectly with dozens of others who were recipients of the food provisions. The other people who benefited were the people working there full-time – who were there before we arrive and would continue to work after we left, because at times, they needed help, and I think that by joining their effort, we were able to alleviate some of their stress and provide a direct benefit to them. And lastly, the volunteers such as myself were certainly affected. I know in my case, I came away from the experience more grateful and inspired than I had ever anticipated. So the number of people affected is in the hundreds.
Through my local volunteer efforts, it has been primarily families – parents and children – who benefited by having a home or food that they would not have had were it not for organizations such as Habitat for Humanity, SerTeens and food pantries, as well as volunteers including me, and also many others.
All of these projects will continue. SerTeens will continue as long as there are teens willing to serve, and the other projects will continue as long as funding continues. There is still a huge amount of work to perform.