The Gift of Giving Back Part 2

This past year has been one of significant change for me. In July, I applied for and was offered the position of Director of Construction for our local Habitat for Humanity affiliate. This meant taking a step back from my business and concentrating my efforts on building affordable housing for families in my local area.

The projects are fun, but the one lesson I have learned from working on these types of projects is that it’s all about the people you meet. The volunteers, the vendors, family members and homeowners. Meeting them and getting to know them is the best part.

As part of my day-to-day operations, I get to work with the best volunteers that come from all backgrounds: local architects, navy sailors, college students, future homeowners, retired professionals, scientists, doctors, etc.

One of my favorite volunteers is “Larry.” I have never asked his age, but like most of our “faithful framer” crew he is retired and in his 60’s. He loves coffee. In fact coffee is the only thing I have

seen him drink. A cup first thing in the morning, then a cup at break time, which he brews most of the time, and then at lunch he breaks out his old school thermos for more coffee. Larry has volunteered for other non-profits, but has found a home with Habitat.

One day he mentioned that he needed to leave right at 2:30 because he had a hospice meeting to attend. You see, he lost his wife five years ago to ovarian cancer, but has stayed in touch with his support group. (He probably brews and drinks coffee at that gathering as well.)

He spends a lot of time alone, but on the work site he has such a willing spirit and volunteers to do any task asked of him. Even on days when he isn’t scheduled to work, he will show up and work his tail off for us. The world needs more Larrys.

I also checked something off my bucket list this year. I had the opportunity to help fulfill a wish for a “MAKE A WISH ” kid. My Rotary Community Corps club helped finish a basement for a litte girl, “Hailey.”

Hailey is an amazing, inspiring kid. She was a typical child until about 18-20 months and then she began to have seizures. Hailey has regressed and now has trouble walking, communicating and needs a feeding tube, but with all of that she will melt your heart. She also has the best big sister ever, Ashley. Ashley is always in a good mood, always smiling, cannot do enough to help. “Would you like a drink Mr. Dino?” “Can I hold that for you?” “Do you want a snack?” “Do you like frozen?” “Have you met my new puppy?” She couldn’t be sweeter.

When it came time for the reveal we all gathered, had a small picnic and then brought Hailey downstairs to see her new room. She started bouncing up and down excitedly “talking” and then came over to me and leaned against me, almost pushing me over. You see, that is how Hailey gives you a hug. She didn’t leave, nor did I want her to. We just leaned into each other, sharing a moment I will never forget.

Our lives are full of forces that put pressure on us; we don’t live in a vacuum. Our lives are messy. Sometimes we get stuff on us from those life events. We begin to look like a painters drop cloth. All different colors and different shapes of those life event splotches. It is only with hindsight we can look back and see that this isn’t just a bunch of ink blots that have no meaning, rather they form a beautiful portrait of our lives. And the best part is the portrait is far from done. It’s still being painted.

So as you read this going into the year 2016, reflect on what you’re painting. What does your portrait look like?