Last week I had the privilege of participating in a house building project in Eastern Kentucky with members of VPC and a friend from Cincinnati, as well as with the good folk who live there. What impressed me most? The beauty.
The Beauty of the Mountains
Being from the mountains myself, I was delighted that we were there at nearly the peak of the fall colors. What an incredible place. Every turn in the road up to our work site six miles out of Hazard brought a different breathtaking view of orange, red and gold against a backdrop of hills, knobs and mountains beyond. The first and last mornings were quite foggy, and watching the fog lift slowly above the hollers was its own kind of prayer, a celebration of God’s creation.
The Beauty of the Work
The beauty of the setting could easily distract us from the work, but work we did. The house was new construction, a home being purchased by a couple and their daughter. The Housing Development Alliance, based in Hazard, is an organization whose mission includes to “develop a variety of housing options for local low-income individuals and families, including shelter for the homeless, transitional housing, affordable rental housing, and new homes.” The Alliance serves the four counties of Perry, Breathitt, Knot and Leslie through donations and government funding. Not only did our actual efforts benefit the project, but for each hour we worked, grant money was allotted to the Alliance.
The home was already under roof and is close to being completed. Our tasks included flooring the entire house, painting and installing all the baseboards, installing and painting the interior doors, and a few other tasks. Our four days were very full, and it was easy to see the difference our work made.
The Beauty of the People
As important as the labor itself is, the relationships are vastly more so. We were in contact daily with Jane Rose, the Alliance coordinator. Steve and Anthony are the two carpenters who kept us going and provided a great work environment. We were invited to the Wednesday night supper at First Presbyterian of Hazard and caught up with some old friends while making new ones. But the most important contact we made was with Jennifer, the homeowner. Jennifer, Bradley, and their four-year-old daughter Sheridan came to the house every evening after work (and after we’d left for the day) to check on progress and sweep up the construction dust. We were grateful to meet Jennifer a few times when she dropped off light fixtures or other finish items. Jennifer is so excited about their new home which will provide for them a new start: an economical, energy-efficient, low interest home and a place to raise their daughter in the beauty of the mountains they love. Her gratitude and warmth are contagious, and a great gift to our group. We’ll look forward to visiting with this family again the next time we’re in Hazard.
All these beautiful people brought meaning to our trip and made us remember that we are all part of the same family of God, reaching for the same goals and working toward the same purposes.