PART TWO – June 2012

Wednesday, June 6, 2012, was a beautiful hot summer day. At 10 a.m. the groundbreaking ceremony began for the new subdivision in the 900 block of east Martin Luther King Street in Bryan, Texas. This is the new Faith subdivision, where Habitat will build 24 homes, one of which will belong to Melanie Benford and her family. I was not able to attend the ceremony, but I spoke with Melanie earlier in the week.

Her voice over the phone is full of hope and excitement as she talks about the wall raising for her home, scheduled September 8, 2012. This is barring any weather delays, of course. One of her three children has a birthday in September. What better way to commemorate a birthday than the sight of walls going up on their very own home! Melanie’s voice is filled with pride and joy as she talks about how excited her children are. They want to know why they aren’t already moving in, not understanding it takes time for these things to happen.

Melanie has accepted the challenges life keeps tossing at her and is “ready for her next challenge.” Speaking with her, as a wife, mother and woman, I realize we have much in common. She is dedicated to her family and determined to do whatever necessary to ensure they are provided for. She has experienced the fear that no parent wants to experience. The cold dread you feel when something is wrong with your child; how helpless you feel until you learn what the illness is. Then spending countless hours not only caring for that child, but endless visits to doctor’s offices to treat her illness. She has made the tough decisions we all face as parents, then agonize over whether we have chosen the right thing for our children. We all want our children to be happy, healthy and whole, and will do whatever it takes to make that happen.

Melanie is a very strong, loving person that doesn’t quit. She’s had to walk a difficult path in life, but instead of choosing the easy way, she’s faced her challenges head on. Melanie’s determination and outlook on life reminds me of one of the many sayings I live by: “Live much, laugh often and love always.” She is an inspiration to me personally, and I feel privileged to be part of her journey with Habitat. Now, with her kiddos back to being happy and healthy, she is free to focus on the next chapter in her life.

She has completed 300 of her 500 “sweat equity hours” that are required as part of the process to qualify for a Habitat home. She completed many of those hours by volunteering in the Habitat Restore. Now she is talking excitedly about the next 100 hours. She has chosen to complete those hours on Habitat construction sites. That’s hard work, especially in the hot summer months. But she wants to learn how to build a home. It’s also a great and exciting change of pace that allows her to help with other people’s homes as well. Then she gets to spend the last 100 hours on the construction of her own home. She and I laughed when I told her I can paint and nail – and that’s about the extent of my construction skills. Her response to me was, “Well, that’s about all it takes to start with, and you can learn the rest.” And learn we will!

I will continue speaking with Melanie as the date fast approaches to raise the walls on her home. I will take pictures to share and chronicle this momentous occasion for this wonderful family. Hopefully I will know enough construction skills of my own by then to actually help with her home. So keep checking back for the progress as this story continues.

Their home will probably be ready by Christmas, if all goes as planned. For one family, it is a priceless gift they will be receiving all wrapped up in Joy and Love. As Melanie says, “Where there is life there is love.” I know this home is going to be full of life and overflowing with love, as will all the homes soon to be built in Faith Subdivision!