To The Family For Whom We Built A Home
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To The Family For Whom We Built A Home

Inspired by Villanova's Service Justice Experience to Cape Fear, North Carolina

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To The Family For Whom We Built A Home

Let me tell you the story of your home.

On the first day we arrived, I parked our massive van on a pile of dirt. Little did I know, this was soon to be the base of your house.

As we hand-dug the trenches that would soon become its foundation, I thought about the cement that would soon be poured into them. And on that cement, floors. And on those floors, bare feet running and jumping. Puppy paws. Socks slipping around corners. Toys scattered on carpet. Forgotten pieces of popcorn under the couch, just missed by the vacuum.

As we screwed the doorknob into place, I thought of all the times it would be turned. Coming home from a long day at work. Leaving for an important occasion. Lingering in the doorway for one last goodbye kiss. This doorknob: the barrier from the world and the entrance to a safe haven.

It took seven of us to roll the refrigerator through the doorway by way of the dolley; the box was awkward and kept tipping. I smiled, though, as I thought of the food that would soon fill it. I pictured the dinner table, centered in a room that is currently empty, with everyone packed around it. That table will come to be a place of laughter and stories shared over a meal.

We regarded our paintbrushes with as much weight as the more forceful tools, for with them came the responsibility of perfection. We proceeded from room to room, touching up miscellaneous marks and scratches until the walls were good as new. We took care to craft perfect strokes on the door, the ceiling, the railings. We even painted inside the closets, though it was unlikely they would be thoroughly examined by anyone. On the occasion of a spontaneous game of hide-and-seek, no blemishes would be found.

Walking around the empty house, I imagined each room in bright technicolor.

My mind projected images of happiness and dreams onto the plain walls like a movie projector on a white sheet. The floors were now reflections of the people soon to walk upon them, though we had never even met.

I hoped you would like our house. I hoped for it to soon be filled with happy memories, and with security. I hope you know how much gentle thought and care went into its every detail.

This is more than just a house.

The people who spent hours by my side as we completed our tasks would surely say the same. Within these walls, we sang and danced. We threw our hands in the air in delight. We played all our favorite songs, told jokes, and stumped each other on tricky riddles. We asked each other about our hopes, and also about our fears. We told childhood stories. We hugged. We sat on the porch and ate hot dogs and tater tots, giggling partially because we lacked sleep but mostly because we loved each other. And let's not forget that we laughed- oh god, how much we laughed!

The people here with me made it home. And with our home, we made your home.

I wish I could hug you, or shake your hand. I wish I knew your name-or your story- so that with each brush stroke or hammered nail I could have known no effort was in vain. I hope you feel every ounce of energy and love that we poured into this house.

I wish I could look into your eyes and say, "Welcome home."

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