“Sticking Our Necks Out” to Help Others
By Dylann Cooper of Beverly
Since this past February was my first time participating in Habitat for Humanity, I didn’t know what to expect or what I would do. I knew there would be a lot of work involved but never did I imagine how much fun and how rewarding the whole experience would be.
The entire North Shore Teen Initiative group was so inviting as well as the Habitat staff and AmeriCorps volunteers in North Carolina who made me feel like a part of the team and not just another teen volunteer. This experience has completely opened my eyes to the extent of how much I am able to help people in this world, and how appreciative I am of the people of Habitat and NSTI, who are helping us kids on the North Shore give back.
I never realized how this trip would impact me like it did: it was amazing knowing that I was working hard to help a family who was also working hard (in a different way, of course) to be able to buy a house and to provide a better life for their family.
At one point I was standing inside the foundation of one of the three houses we were working on, and it hit me that what I was physically standing on at that moment, was soon going to be the door of a brand new home. Of course, at that time it was still all dirt and didn’t look much like anything with its cement and brick foundation; not much taller than I am in some areas, even where the ground was higher. However, in a few short months it would have doors and walls and a roof.
Once I really realized this, it made me feel even more incredible about what I was doing for a family I didn’t even know. It also proved to me that I didn’t need to know these people to help change their lives. I think this gave me a new strength to complete what we had gone to Raleigh to do, and to give this house’s new family the sense of pride that they deserved in being able to buy themselves a house with hard-earned money — I was just a little part of helping that dream become a reality for them.
During our last day on-site, we drove through the community of houses that the 2011 NSTI group had worked on two years prior. I was in complete awe that we were actually seeing the work of this astounding organization and the good it does for people all over the country and the world.
Growing up Jewish and going to Hillel, I was taught how important it is to be a giraffe and stick my neck out to help others, and at this point, what I had done really felt like tikkun olam. I am so thankful for this experience and can’t wait until next year to go back!
Dylann was a Habitat 2013 participant.