“I can’t thank you enough. You don’t know how much this means to me.” The woman said as she set the homemade lunch down in front of us. She insisted on preparing food every day to thank us for the work we were doing at her trailer. She smiled and sat down to eat with us, telling stories about her life. Although this woman didn’t have much, she appreciated all that she had. Each day when we drove to her trailer, she would come outside and greet us with a smile. She also dedicated time to make a handmade poster, thanking us, and hung it on her porch for everyone to see.
A few summers ago, I spent a week volunteering with the Appalachia Service Project. The goal of the Appalachia Service Project is to repair and restore houses for low-income families. Multiple groups work together throughout the summer to help until each house is fully repaired. The group I was a part of was assigned two trailers to repair. The first couple I worked with was striving to earn back custody of their son, who was in foster care. To prove that they could provide a safe home for their son, they needed to rebuild a room for him to stay in. The second family we helped needed a new roof, siding, and a new bathroom. We all worked tirelessly to fix each house, knowing that the benefits the families would gain from our work was worth it. By the end of the week, the progress was significant - painting the son’s room was all that remained for the first trailer and the second family’s trailer had a new roof, new siding, and the foundational work completed for the bathroom. During this week I learned how to repair a roof, spackle, and put on drywall, but more importantly, I learned how appreciative people can be and how much of a difference one week of time can make in someone else’s life.