A Guest Submission by:
Meagan Prins, AmeriCorps with Greater Des Moines Habitat for Humanity
I have been in hundreds of houses in my life. I have turned more door handles to count, my toes squishing the soft carpet of so many living rooms, and have had many a meal in a vast array of kitchens, marble counter tops and the soft wood of dining room tables.
“We are here to celebrate something we all so often take for granted—a home.”
This house had the smell of fresh paint, plastic sheeting still lining the edges of newly lined flooring, empty rooms soon to be filled with bunk beds, toy boxes, desk lamps and books. I was shoulder to shoulder with others in the cozy front room, a large circle of intent and smiling faces surrounding a family.
The speaker was an older gentleman I had never met. The family he spoke to with tears in his eyes I had never met either, never seen or talked to. There were many members, some old and quiet and some the raucous youngsters screeching and running around and tapping their fingers on the new windows with smudges and love. It is easy for me to remember the excitement of a move, of picking out my bedroom, of imagining all the memories that could canvas and decorate the walls of a place.
Because of a corner house in a cul-de-sac at the back of a lane,
Because of walls made of wood, dry-wall, paint and plaster,
Because of a roof with sturdy shingles and a middle upstairs bedroom with blue walls,
Because of card games at the kitchen table and discussions over dinner,
Because of doors that locked and the safety of my own bed,
I became me.
It’s true. A home is something that most of us take for granted. It is something I always considered normal and constant until this moment—as a volunteer services Americorps member with Habitat for Humanity witnessing my first home dedication. Being here, just a face in the crowd on the outside looking in on the culmination of hours of work and perseverance, is strangely profound.
As the final words are said, I watch one of the youngest members of the family grab the keys and hold them over her head, exclaiming, “Now we have a house!”. Now she, like me, has a place to build her up. This address, on this street, in this neighborhood, will become the center of her world. I am filled with gratitude for shelter, for community, for these walls that have the power to nurture, grow, and heal instead of harm and divide.
It is only my second week in this year of service, but I hope the gravity of this moment stays with me. I hope that as I continue on with small tasks and challenging moments that I can hold on to the feeling of home, to the saliency of community, and to this little taste of hope in its rawest form.
Volunteer Iowa would like to thank Meagan for writing about her AmeriCorps experience and encourage others to share their stories of hope, collaboration and community change with us. If you would like to be a guest contributor, please connect with our Communications and Engagement Officer, Brianne Fitzgerald at 515-725-3179 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.